Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions

Posted by on June 15, 2010 in Thoughts | 9 comments

Here are a couple of the more powerful statements he made in this TED presentation:

“Is it a good idea, generally speaking to pain and violence and public humiliation as a way of encouraging healthy emotional development and good behaviour? Is there any doubt that this question has an answer and that it matters? Now many of you might worry that the notion of well-being is truly undefined and seemingly perpetually open to be re-construed, then how therefore can there be an objective notion of well-being?”

“Consider the great problem of women’s bodies. What to do about them? Well this is one thing you can do about them . You can cover them up. Now it is the position generally of our intellectual community that while we might not like this, we might think of this as wrong in Boston or Paolo Alto, who are we to say that the proud denizens of an ancient culture are wrong to force their wives and daughters to live in cloth bags? I mean, who are we to say even that it is wrong to beat them with lengths of steel cable or throw battery acid in their faces if they decline the privilege of being smothered in this way?

Or who are we NOT to say this? Who are we to pretend that we know so little about human well-being that we have to be non-judgemental about a practice like this? I’m not talking bout voluntary wearing of a veil, women should be allowed to wear what they want as far as I’m concerned. But what does voluntary mean in a community where when a girl gets raped her father’s first impulse rather often is to murder her out of shame?”

I think this should be shared around as much as possible, and I really think every person should see it.

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