Sam Harris vs. Jonathan Haidt: The New Science of Morality

This Channel is completely devoted to Sam Harris. It has a complete list of every video he has ever appeared in. As well as versions of every debate he has b...

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Comment by Edward theurj Berge on July 18, 2016 at 8:44am

Speaking of happiness, see the 2015 World Happiness Report. Scandinavian countries always lead the way. The report lists the factors it considers in happiness and they tend toward the social democratic (aka liberal) policies, like the US used to.

Comment by Edward theurj Berge on July 17, 2016 at 5:53pm


"It’s a finding that’s been replicated again and again: Ask political conservatives and liberals to rate their happiness, and conservatives come out ahead. [...] But a paper published in the March 13, 2015, issue of Science seemed to turn the happiness gap on its head by showing that when happiness is measured using behavioral cues, liberals come out ahead."

Comment by Edward theurj Berge on July 17, 2016 at 5:48pm

In this discussion the issue of happiness came up, Haidt defending it as be a definitive marker. See this recent article exploring the happiness factor in liberals and conservatives.

Comment by Edward theurj Berge on January 7, 2014 at 7:51am

William questioned Harris on the evo-devo of religions in my blog. I wrote another blog post called "the prerational basis of morality" as further response to William. Therein is a link to William's original comments in a post on Harris and Haidt.

Comment by Edward theurj Berge on January 5, 2014 at 10:14pm

I'm not sure what he means by 'brains.' Is it individual differences based on personal history in addition to general differences from within one's culture and/or religion? That would make some sense. In the link on mystical states he noted that they would be a candidate for peaks of experience that might be linked to moral peaks. And he noted such states are elicited from a variety of meditative or contemplative traditions. So it's possible that he's inferring that based on our brain neurophysiology this would 1) provide some similarity to these states across traditions and/or cultures and 2) at the same time allow for not only traditional and/or cultural differences but also individual differences of personal history?

Comment by Balder on January 5, 2014 at 9:04pm

I appreciate some of this (the existence of multiple peaks, which nevertheless do not undermine our ability to make moral judgments), but I think he is attempting an unwarranted reduction when/if he wants to make differences in moral judgment explainable primarily in terms of differences at the level of brains.

Comment by Edward theurj Berge on January 5, 2014 at 7:41pm

The following from Harris' response to critics might be useful:

"My model of the moral landscape does allow for multiple peaks -- many different modes of flourishing, admitting of irreconcilable goals. [...] Such disagreements do not land us back in moral relativism, however: because there will be right and wrong ways to move toward one peak or the other; there will be many more low spots on the moral landscape than peaks (i.e. truly wrong answers to moral questions); and for all but the loftiest goals and the most disparate forms of conscious experience, moral disagreements will not be between sides of equal merit. Which is to say that for most moral controversies, we need not agree to disagree; rather, we should do our best to determine which side is actually right."

And this excerpt which takes account of some embodied human universals as basis for morality:

"In any case, I suspect that radically disjoint peaks are unlikely to exist for human beings. We are far too similar to one another to be that different. If we each could sample all possible states of human experience, and were endowed with perfect memories so that we could sort our preferences, I think we would converge on similar judgments of what is good, what is better, and what is best. Differences of opinion might still be possible, and would themselves be explicable in terms of differences at the level of our brains."

Comment by Edward theurj Berge on January 5, 2014 at 9:59am

On the other hand, Harris has been an avid proponent of mystical states, noting that they provide a different kind of happiness not tied to the contingencies of our lives. See this video, for example. This is the side of him about which many atheists froth rabid.

Comment by Edward theurj Berge on January 5, 2014 at 9:39am

Also note from Haidt's bio that he's into 'positive psychology,' another of those magical thinking paradigms divorced from reality. That says a lot.

Comment by Edward theurj Berge on January 5, 2014 at 9:08am

This is the link to the referenced Harris post.

What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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