A wrongheaded book review

Science writer John Horgan reviewed Sam Harris’s The Moral Landscape in the latest Scientific American. He doesn’t like it, but for a bizarre reason:

One can raise all sorts of philosophical objections to this position, and the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah does just that in a New York Times review ironically titled “Science Knows Best”. My concerns about Harris’s proposal are simpler: I just look at the harm—historical and recent—wreaked by scientists supposedly concerned with humanity’s well-being.

Horgan then recounts some episodes of malfeasance by scientists, including the latest revelations about NIH-funded doctors injecting Guatemalans with syphillis, and doctors taking bribes from pharmaceutical companies to prescribe dangerous psychotropic drugs to children. He blames science for this, or rather the hubris of scientists.  He even raises the canard about science being responsible for the evils of Stalin and Hitler:

Some will complain that it is unfair to hold science accountable for the misdeeds of a minority. It is not only fair, it is essential, especially when scientists as prominent as Harris are talking about creating a universal, scientifically validated morality. Moreover, Harris blames Islam and Catholicism for the actions of suicide bombers and pedophilic priests, so why should science be exempt from this same treatment?

Clearly, some bad scientists are just greedy opportunists who care about only their own well-being. But those who fervently believe their own rhetoric about saving humanity may be even more dangerous. Consider the harm done in the name of Marxism and eugenics, pseudoscientific (not religious) ideologies that inspired two of the most lethal regimes in history—Stalin’s U.S.S.R. and Nazi Germany.

Horgan’s claim here—that if we blame religion for its misuse by bad people then we must also blame science for similar misuses—is very common. I would argue that it’s much more inherent in religion than in science to make its adherents behave badly: as Steven Weinberg said, “With or without [religion] you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”  And codes of conduct are inherent in religion but not in science.

I’m about three-quarters of the way through Harris’s book, and his point is this: if you think about it, you’ll realize that moral judgments should always be about people’s well-being—that no other criterion makes sense. (His argument is not that our past and current moral judgments always come down to well being, for he sees some modern “morality” as mistaken.) Nor does Harris overlook the problems with this view: the difficulty of evaluating and trading off different types of well being (e.g., mental versus physical), the problem of judging societal versus individual well being, and the dilemma of making moral judgments in those many cases where it’s simply impossible to assess well being. While recognizing these problems, Harris doesn’t offer explicit solutions, and for this (and other things) he was criticized by Appiah in The New York Times.  I’m not sure, though, that Harris sees his brief as having to resolve these problems.

Harris also suggests that neurophysiology and brain studies can help us determine what “well being” is on a neuronal level, how people make moral judgments, and whether those judgments arise in the part of the brain that also assesses empirical “truth.”  And, of course, he suggests that science—broadly construed as “empirical study”—can help figure out what promotes or does not promote well being.  This latter claim seems uncontroversial: if we object to abortion because we think that fetuses of a certain age are aware of their surroundings, then science can conceivably provide helpful information.  To this extent, Horgan’s assertion that scientists “should not claim that their investigations of what is yield special insights into what should be” is wrong.  Even if you don’t buy Harris’s argument, science does yield insights that can inform judgments about what should be.

I’ll post a review of Sam’s book when I’m done, but I do recommend that you read it.  We have too blithely dismissed the derivation of “ought” from “is”.  And if our thoughtful moral judgments really do come down to assessing “well-being,” then Sam may be right.  Right now I’m thinking hard about morality, trying to determine whether what seems obviously moral nevertheless could sometimes reduce well-being.  Given the fuzziness of the concept of “well-being”, and the often near-impossibility of measuring it, I may not come up with an answer.

Nevertheless, Horgan’s review is off the mark, ill-tempered, and curiously aligned with the common religious claim that science produced Hitler and Stalin.  It’s especially curious coming from a man who wrote such a trenchant critique of the Templeton Foundation and its blurring of faith and science.  And it’s telling that when Horgan singles out one “misguided” moral judgment by Harris, he chooses this:

I suspect Harris wants to rely on brain scans to measure “well-being” because he doesn’t trust people to simply say what makes them happy. If a Muslim girl says that she likes wearing a veil, as many do, she doesn’t know what’s good for her, Harris might say. Maybe she doesn’t, but magnetic resonance imaging won’t help us resolve these sorts of issues.

In fact, Harris discusses this very case in his book.  His take is that while some individuals may like wearing burqas (yes, I know that a burqa is more than a veil), others don’t and may wear them out of fear (the Iranians have special police to enforce female dress codes).  Clearly many women try to get around those codes, and equally clearly many of them hate them.  (I experienced this in Turkey when I talked to university students about the wearing of head scarves—currently banned in public universities but always contested.  Nearly all of the students I met, including Muslim women, were opposed to the practice: the Muslim women told me that they don’t like headscarves but if they were permitted in universities they would feel compelled to wear them so that they wouldn’t be seen as “bad Muslims.”)

Harris’s take on burqas is that the compulsion to wear them is bad for general well-being since it oppresses women, and that’s not good for society as a whole.  What he’s objecting to is not an individual’s right to wear the garment, but religious and legal dictates that they must wear the garment—and the effect of those dictates on the health of Islamic society.

You can argue about whether Harris is correct in his take on clothing restrictions, but Horgan gets that take completely wrong.  It’s as though he didn’t even read the book, but is using it as a hobbyhorse to vent some spleen against scientists. And Horgan must surely realize that science has no way of enforcing morality. Even if people like Harris tell the layperson what they see as increasing “well-being”, and hence morality, we scientists can’t force people to behave one way or another.  That’s done either by religion or law, and in both cases the information must be filtered through non-scientists. It’s simply fatuous to claim that researching well-being is going to produce an Orwellian society run by scientists with brain scanners.

The first requirement of reviewing is that one present the book’s arguments correctly and address them honestly.  And at this minimal task Horgan fails miserably.

72 Comments

  1. Posted October 18, 2010 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    He probably only read another’s snippet review of Harris’ work and then set out to claim a paycheck.
    ~Rev. El

    • Posted October 18, 2010 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      Aw come on – in writing a review for Sci Am? That’s incredibly unlikely – it would be malfeasance!

      Fight fair.

      • Michael Kingsford Gray
        Posted October 19, 2010 at 3:35 am | Permalink

        Sci-Am went down the academic toilet-bowl decades ago.

  2. John H
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    John Horgan attempts to make a connection between science and the ideologies of Stalin and Hitler. All that he does is show that he does not understand the clear distinction between science and pseudoscience.

  3. Doc Bill
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    In the words of Dawkins: What rubbish!

    Horgan-like writing is one of the reasons I cancelled my Scientific American subscription after 30 years. The magazine became tabloid and weak.

    When Horgan is thirsty he goes to the tap, not down to the stream. When he needs to take a dump he walks 20 feet to his bathroom, not into the woods. Hungry? Why the fridge is fully stocked; food’s not spoiled. Horgan lives a life that is peacefully fat and happy. Thankfully, religion provides all this! We are so lucky.

    • MadScientist
      Posted October 18, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      I canceled shortly after Martin Gardner no longer contributed on a regular basis. It had turned into the Unscientific American and I lost all interest in it.

  4. Posted October 18, 2010 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    The “scientists dictating my life” meme is going to become more common as contunued attempts are made to explore ideas for establishing personal and social equanimity sans traditional prescriptions. Even suggesting a methodological heuristic feeds into the stereotype of a “cold and clinical” approach to human affairs.

    The irony remains that medical science has alleviated much of the suffering that makes human exuberance possible and sustainable.

  5. Christopher Gray
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Science is ‘bad’ in the same way that a cricket bat is ‘bad’. Religion is bad in the way that a set of water-boarding equipment is ‘bad’.

    To not see the difference in this respect is to ignore the intended purpose of both science and religion.

    • MadScientist
      Posted October 18, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Why, some of catholicism’s best friends were iron maidens.

  6. Posted October 18, 2010 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    I have just finished listening to the audiobook.

    The central idea is that values are fact-based and therefore also susceptible to scientific investigation.

    Regarding well-being’s “fuzziness”…

    Surely part of Harris’ point – fron the very beginning – is that well-being is *not* that fuzzy nor unmeasurable. He starts by exposing people hesitant to condemn the most obvious atrocities as missing this very point.

    Science can begin – indeed has begun – to help work some of these things out.

    To think of well being as an absolute is to miss the point of the book, I think. That’s why he calls it a landscape, with peaks and valleys. With multiple possible solutions to the same or similar issues.

    To reiterate: well-being can be approached any other field of research: experimentally, with many fronts open simultaneously, with hard and not-so-hard evidence, peer-reviewed, through dialogue… and there is no reason not to expect specific, objective solutions to some of these problems.

    There’s fuzziness in every field of research. This – the field of values – is simply another one.

  7. sasqwatch
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    “With friends like these, who needs enemies?” – German/English proverb, Hall & Oates, Just Left, The Story So Far, Gregory House MD, etc…

    “God protect me from my friends, I’ll take care of my enemies.” – Voltaire

    “WTF?!?!” – anonymous

  8. Posted October 18, 2010 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Complementary watching: San Harris’ TED talk on how science can show what’s right:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_science_can_show_what_s_right.html

  9. Dominic
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Of related interest – the BBC Radio 4 ‘Start the Week’ had a discussion this morning about morality, religion and politics – not sure if it is available outside the UK –
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vcmp7#synopsis
    Raymond Tallis sounds very interesting & I am now quite eager to read his book about pointing “Michelangelo’s Finger” –
    ”I am a humanist and see my work as a doctor and as a philosopher as respectively an expression of, and as setting out the case for, my humanist convictions.”

    • Posted October 18, 2010 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      Raymond Tallis is indeed very interesting – a polymath, an excellent writer, fulla ideas.

      • Dominic
        Posted October 18, 2010 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        He is in the US shortly according to his website – 4th-13th November: Visiting Scholar National Centre for the Humanities, North Carolina, USA. I am sure there will be public lectures etc…

        Also he is a (former) clinical scientist who is a philospher.

  10. Tulse
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Right now I’m thinking hard about morality, trying to determine whether what seems obviously moral nevertheless could sometimes reduce well-being.

    I’ve not read the book, but in hearing him speak I’m not clear how animal welfare fits under Harris’ view. I think we all agree that setting kittens on fire is wrong, but that doesn’t necessarily negatively impact on human well-being overall — while it may greatly distress you, Jerry, there are presumably others who would take delight at such an act. Thus, if kittens aren’t worthy of moral concern, the only immorality of such act would be to let those who care (such as Jerry) know about it, and not the act itself.

    (Of course, even if kittens are covered by Harris, one still has the standard problem with utilitarianism, namely, even if the act is harmful to some, as long as the overall benefit is positive, it could be argued that it is the moral thing to do.)

    Another domain might be treatment of the natural world, specifically the notion that, for example, it would be wrong to intentionally kill the last members of a species, even if that species is no longer ecologically significant. Would it be morally wrong to kill the last black rhino? The last Bengal tiger? What about less charismatic megafauna, or even non-megafauna? Is there anything wrong with felling thousand-year-old giant sequoias? Is there something humans owe to nature beyond the benefits we can derive from it?

    We can extend this to other non-terrestrial ecosystems — for example, if Mars had any life on it, would it be moral to wipe it out in order to terraform it? That action would be beneficial to humans, increase our well-being — do we owe any moral consideration to non-sentient unique extra-terrestrial life?

    I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I am very uncomfortable with the notion that somehow neurobiological utilitarianism will give us reasonable solutions.

    • Posted October 18, 2010 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      You’ve answered yourself. It’s that uncomfortable feeling that seems to be your issue.

      What’s wrong with trying to find objective, fact-based solutions to these type of questions?

      Remember: he’s not setting out to be a prophet.

      Read (or listen to) the book. It covers some of what you’re concerned with.

      • Tulse
        Posted October 18, 2010 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        You’ve answered yourself. It’s that uncomfortable feeling that seems to be your issue.

        I’m not clear what you’re suggesting — could you clarify?

        What’s wrong with trying to find objective, fact-based solutions to these type of questions?

        I’d be fine with that if such were available, but I’m not at all convinced that the ought-is divide is as surmountable as Harris seems to claim.

        Read (or listen to) the book. It covers some of what you’re concerned with.

        I will likely read it at some point, but to further the conversation here, would you be willing to summarize Harris’ response to the points raised?

    • Posted October 18, 2010 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Well, first you consider some questions and domains which you think might lie wholly outside “his view”.

      Then you admit that simply the notion of solutions to these kinds of problems by “neurobiological utilitarianism” make you very uncomfortable.

      If what we’re after is reliable solutions to problems, then why be uncomfortable with how they are arrived at (if indeed they are reliably arrived at)? Hence, your uncomfortable feelings seem to stand out more than anything else.

      However I also suspect you meant to say that you are suspicious of what you mean by “neurological utilitarianism”, but I’m not sure exactly what that is.

      All we know is you feel uncomfortable. So I’d ask you to elaborate on that.

      As for animal rights, what Harris talks about is that values apply to conscious beings, and this includes animals.

      I’m not sure he talks about environmental ethics… now I’m curious about this too.

      However, what Harris does throughout is to compare empirical starting points to faith-based ones. So in the case of our natural environment, you could contrast:

      1. The world belongs to us and we are allowed (indeed commanded) to subdue it and exploit it for our own purpose as we wish.

      2. We belong to the world, and the fact we are self conscious and knowledgeable means we have a responsibility towards our environment.

      • Posted October 18, 2010 at 9:20 am | Permalink

        By the way, re-reading my posts I realise I might have sounded a bit rude. In that case I apologise! : )

      • Tulse
        Posted October 18, 2010 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        If what we’re after is reliable solutions to problems, then why be uncomfortable with how they are arrived at (if indeed they are reliably arrived at)?

        I realize I was a bit telegraphic. To be clearer, my discomfort is with the logic of using such a domain to make these determinations, the casual tossing out of a well-argued-for distinction between facts and values, along with a general suspicion of grand claims of neurobiology (especially from neurobiologists, the past rather poor history of scientists attempting to naturalize ethics (see, e.g., sociobiology), the general problems with utilitarianism, and the feeling that implicit in Harris’ project is largely an ad hoc justification of Western Jeffersonian democracy and morals, rather than a truly objective “go where the data leads” naturalizing of moral reasoning.

        As for animal rights, what Harris talks about is that values apply to conscious beings, and this includes animals.

        As an ethical vegetarian I’m glad he makes this move, but I’m curious as to how he justifies it from his “utilitarian” perspective. I’m also curious as to how far he is willing to take the implications of that view — does he demand we stop raising farm animals, for example? If he instead just supports the humane treatment of animals destined to be meat, why can’t we humanely raise humans for food? I don’t see how one can answer these kinds of questions without importing non-utilitarian axioms into one’s moral system.

        what Harris does throughout is to compare empirical starting points to faith-based ones

        Those aren’t the only two alternatives, of course. If Harris’ point is simply that religion is a lousy source of morality, I of course agree. But that doesn’t mean that science somehow has to take over that role — there are plenty of non-religious ethical systems.

        • Paul W.
          Posted October 18, 2010 at 10:30 am | Permalink

          Tulse,

          I think I agree with Harris that the “well-argued-for” distinction between facts and values is not actually so well-argued.

          In particular, I think that when people say that “you can’t get from is to ought” (logically), they’re misstating the issue.

          The issue isn’t that you can’t get from is to ought—norms are often implied by the natural structure of a domain, and you can thus get normative statements from the facts of the domain.

          (E.g., a circulatory system ought to pump sufficient blood around. If it doesn’t, it’s simply a bad circulatory system.)

          The issue isn’t that you can’t get from is to ought—clearly you can in nonmoral domains where things have clear enough structure and function. Biologists do it all the time.

          The real issue is that you can’t get from such normative oughts to caring about those oughts, by pure logic.

          If you prefer to die, you may recognize that in terms of its function, your heart “ought to” pump blood, but nonetheless choose to make it stop doing so. The norms of circulatory systems may not motivate you.

          If we can identify constitutive principles of morality like we can those of, say, circulatory systems, then we can derive moral oughts naturalistically, without spooky magical Moral Laws.

          The problem is that’s not going to make a sociopath not a sociopath. If they don’t already care about that general kind of norm—e.g., if they just don’t have an impulse to be impartially benevolent—they may recognize the “ought” as a truth but just not care.

          It’s not that we can’t get from is to ought. It’s that we cant logically make you want what you ought, if you just don’t want that sort of thing.

          • Tulse
            Posted October 18, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

            norms are often implied by the natural structure of a domain

            “Norms” in a purely statistical sense, but nothing more.

            E.g., a circulatory system ought to pump sufficient blood around.

            So now we’re going to import teleology into evolution? So is the panda being immmoral because it is using its sesamoid bone for a way not intended by Mother Nature? For that matter, is someone evil when they have a heart attack?

            If we can identify constitutive principles of morality like we can those of, say, circulatory systems, then we can derive moral oughts naturalistically

            Why must those constitutive principles come from biology? Why not physics — “surely gravity tells us that all things are supposed to fall, and so birds are wicked, immoral creatures”. Why not psychology, or sociology, or anthropology, or economics?

            While you pooh-pooh “Moral Law”, the language you use sounds very similar to that used by 19th century practitioners of natural theology — just look at the way the world is, and we can derive from that how it ought to be. This approach is no more sound when stripped of the divine component.

            • Paul W.
              Posted October 18, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink
              norms are often implied by the natural structure of a domain

              “Norms” in a purely statistical sense, but nothing more.

              No, not statistical. Functional.

              Think about circulatory systems. They do something in particular. If they stop doing that, things typically die.

              (But not always, e.g., in a worm that’s evolved to be parasitic and small, and doesn’t need a circulatory system anymore—it just bathes in its hosts’ bodily fluids.)

              This isn’t about statistical norms, but about qualitatative functional differences.

              So, for example, if most organisms had shabby circulatory systems, but a few had much better ones, you could tell the difference—some would pump barely-sufficient and sometimes insufficient amounts of blood, others would always pump sufficient amounts, etc.

              You’d know which ones were better circulatory systems, irrespective of whether good function they were typical or rare, and irrespective of whether you really care one way or the other.

              E.g., a circulatory system ought to pump sufficient blood around.

              So now we’re going to import teleology into evolution?

              No, that’s just not what I’m doing.

              Consider parasites and symbiote. The difference is an objective one, irrespective of “which side you’re on.”

              Suppose you have a symbiote, but it stops being so beneficial to its host.

              It’s a worse symbiote whether you care about symbiosis or not.

              And suppose that the (former) symbiote evolves to be deleterious to its host, on average, but to propagate itself more effectively, e.g., by inducing sneezing or diarrhea and become more contagious. (E.g., benign e. coli becoming shigella or something like that.)

              Objectively speaking, the organism has become a worse symbiote but a better parasite.

              Those normative terms make scientific sense, irrespective of whether you or anybody actually values symbiosis, or roots for parasitism, or notices the particular phenomena at all.

              Nature doesn’t care. I am not claiming that it does—I’m claiming that it doesn’t, but that that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t derive norms for a given domain from facts about how that domain works.

              It doesn’t mean that there isn’t such a thing as a better or worse circulatory sytems or symbiote. (Or parasite or predator.)

              If you can identify a sufficiently clear function of something, you can talk about whether it’s better or worse at that, with no actual teleology.

              Now consider morality in a similar way. The universe doesn’t care if you’re moral, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a difference between being moral and being immoral.

              To oversimplify quite a bit, imagine that morality is a psychological capacity we’ve evolved to promote cooperation, analogous to symbiosis.

              Under some circumstances, such “moral” (prosocial, cooperative) behavior may have survival value, but under other circumstances, being amoral, (e.g., sociopathically selfish) may be a better evolutionary strategy. (And more personally satistfying for some given individual.)

              That doesn’t mean that there isn’t an objective difference between being moral and amoral, as there is between being a symbiote and a parasite or a predator. Evolution may in fact favor the latter in many circumstances—being selfish has obvious advantages—but even that shows that there is a difference.

              As I’ve said, I’m not claiming that being able to derive such norms from facts is the same thing as being able to make someone care about those norms.

              If somebody is fundamentally not sufficiently benevolent toward others, they may understand that they’re amoral, but not care. If they’re sufficiently selfish, and it works acceptably well for them, they may prefer to stay that way. (As well as being unable to change even if they wanted to, because they have no moral bootstraps.)

              That doesn’t mean that there’s not an objective difference between a moral person and a sociopath, or between marginally moral people and solidly moral people.

    • Posted October 18, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Harris’ move is saying that values are derived from facts, rather than mutually exclusive. Hence the scientific method also has something to say about them.

      He also does away with free will as a real, physical (or indeed metaphysical) thing, which I thing is a great step forward.

      As for neurobiology, he does reference it several times, but I seem to remember he does this cautiously. I certainly didn’t get the impression that he thinks it is the only reliable way to study moral questions reliably, or even the main one. It is, however, an emerging and exciting field at the moment (this is very much a book of the moment), so references to it are to be expected.

      Just to note: this book does not pretend, as far as I can see, to be a full-blown philosophical treatise or a ‘project’ that will eventually provide “all the answers”.

      All it does is argue that science has a role to play in trying to figure out what we, as a people, ought to do and not to do for our collective well-being. (It also – and separately – argues how superstition and religion do not).

      In this sense, it is indeed suggesting that the scientific method can and should be used to study morality, a domain that religion claims as its own. This is the reason this book is so exciting, at least to me. I wandered exactly this same thing a few months back and.. presto! Here’s the book :)

      So: he doesn’t demand people do or do not do things. He uses certain examples (e.g. forcing women to wear a veil) to show that there are things that are objectively be shown to be against the collective good will, and encourages research in this direction.

      My impression is that you might be reading too much into the book already. I’d just… read it. :)

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted October 18, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        I just finished reading Sam Harris’ The Moral Landscape the other day and I have listened to the TED talk, the extended version and saw Harris on the book tour at a local university. Carlos Pi, you capture the essence of the book and the rest, in my opinion. I, also, am excited about this beginning and will do what I can to help further things along. I thanked Sam for taking this to the next level.

        • Posted October 18, 2010 at 11:52 am | Permalink

          Much obliged!

          Makes one want to become a scientist, doesn’t it?

      • Tulse
        Posted October 18, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        All it does is argue that science has a role to play in trying to figure out what we, as a people, ought to do and not to do for our collective well-being.

        Right, science can certainly tell us how to increase various measures of well-being. But it can’t tell us to value certain types of well-being over others, or even that certain things constitute well-being.

    • Posted October 18, 2010 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      human well-being overall…

      No! Harris talks about the well-being of conscious creatures. (Or it might have been conscious “beings.”) I’m pretty sure that includes kittens.

      • Tulse
        Posted October 18, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        But why does it include non-humans? What principle, apart from ad hoc, does he use?

        • Posted October 18, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

          It’s a good and valid question (I don’t mean to punt, I think Harris is right), but I was speaking to the part of your comment that appeared to be attributing a belief to Harris he doesn’t hold: a privileged status for human well-being.

          You can ask why, and that’s great, but I don’t think it repairs a mis-attribution. This simple answer is “because that’s consistent with what Harris meant.”

          The less simple answer is that one can’t call someone else “wrong” about morality without begging the question to some degree. One has to at least know enough about what morality *isn’t*, and insofar they are putting forward a definition and the “why” question applies just as much to them as it would anyone else.

          I think to judge whether a definition works is whether (a) it captures actual usage of the word in everyday unreflective contexts and (b) the definition is defining something that happens to refer to real things.

          I think Harris’ effort at (a) is neither better nor worse than anyone else’s. His point is that our ability to imagine borderline cases, or different definitions is no justification for moral paralysis. I also think he succeeds at b. Brains are real…

          • Posted October 18, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

            forgive that my above comment was shittily written.

          • Tulse
            Posted October 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

            I was speaking to the part of your comment that appeared to be attributing a belief to Harris he doesn’t hold: a privileged status for human well-being.

            I originally said “I’m not clear how animal welfare fits under Harris’ view”. I didn’t mean to imply that Harris didn’t offer an account for animals, but rather I hadn’t heard mention of them in any of his talks, and I saw no way to do this without some additional, non-biological assumptions.

            The less simple answer is that one can’t call someone else “wrong” about morality without begging the question to some degree.

            I see Harris’ whole project as an attempt to provide an objective, rational basis to morality, but you seem to be arguing that, in the end, it all boils down to relativism/subjectivism.

            • Posted October 18, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

              I don’t mean to say that.

              The relativist/subjectivist arguments refute themselves before they begin to apply to anything else.

              Harris’ theory of morality however, refers to real things (objective) and captures everyday usage of moral language.

    • steve oberski
      Posted October 18, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think Sam Harris has limited himself to just the well being of humans but to any creature in proportion to the extent that it can experience pain.

    • Sam
      Posted October 18, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Harris covers animals in that he says the degree to which beings are conscious creatures with the capacity to experience well-being and suffering is the degree to which they must factor in a morality of well-being and suffering.

      On the objection to utilitarianism canard, presumably you’re raising that objection because you think an attitude of doing what the majority wants at the expense of the minority is a harmful thing to do, and so you’re still arguing on the basis of well-being vs. suffering, which fits into Harris’ scheme regardless of whether it fits into the utilitarian scheme.

  11. Kevin
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Well, that settles it.

    Going to have to read it myself.

    Better that than Swinburne.

  12. Gatot
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    I am still reading Harris’ book. I think he is saying something important, and timely here. That ‘morality’ is not something beyond comprehension, it is not “a mystery”. We are closing in to an understanding now, through science, through scientific uses of fMRi.

    This is a profound idea. About time too!

    As about Horgan, I agree Jerry’s take that Horgan most likely haven’t read the book ..

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted October 18, 2010 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      It is more than just the fMRI, it is also about the need to ‘unlearn’ the taboo of science dealing in morality and to dispel the old saying “You cannot derive an ‘ought’ from an is'”

  13. Stan Pak
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    I always perceived claims that “science will never achieve X” (where X means some areas of knowledge) as very self-limiting. As with flying, the same might be with supposedly inscrutable realm of values (including preferences and morals) for scientific inquiry. We know now that morals can be probed and justified by observation and experiments. We explore values also empirically in the field of utility theory. Similarly I would expect that “ought” indeed may come from “is” on the very basic level of our biology.

    • Posted October 18, 2010 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Hear, hear.

    • Tulse
      Posted October 18, 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      I would expect that “ought” indeed may come from “is” on the very basic level of our biology.

      Cancer may also come from the very basic level of our biology — it is therefore immoral to cure cancer?

      • Paul W., OM
        Posted October 18, 2010 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        Morality is a different kind of thing than cancer, with its own distinctive logic.

        See my comment below about “objectivity” and Michael Jordan being objectively a better athlete than me.

        In the normative terms of athletics, “better” is naturally about being stronger or faster or defter or smarter or more competitive in some way—not dumber, slower, less coordinated, lackadaisical, etc.

        In the normative terms of morality, “better” is naturally about being impartially benevolent (maybe among other things)—not gratuitiously malicious or indifferent.

        Morality is a certain kind of thing, in commonsense terms that can IMHO be cashed out scientifically.

        As with being athletic, you don’t have to want to participate. (You might prefer to be a couch potato.) You don’t have to want to be moral, or to accept the natural valence of morality. You could be sociopath who just doesn’t care, or a psychopath who delights in doing malicious things.

        That doesn’t mean it isn’t wrong to do those things, and right not to. Given what morality is and how does an doesn’t work, some things count as moral and other things don’t, just as some things count as athletic and other things don’t.

        • Tulse
          Posted October 18, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

          In the normative terms of morality, “better” is naturally about being impartially benevolent (maybe among other things)—not gratuitiously malicious or indifferent

          And you get that definition from biology, or from your own sense of what morality means? Honestly, this seems like nothing more than post-hoc justification for common sentiments, and not a careful, follow-the-data-where-it-leads project.

          Let’s say that I can conclusively demonstrate that, based on biology, humans are overall better off if they are run by a benevolent dictator. Would you buy that conclusion, or would you instead argue that “freedom” is some sort of biological imperative?

  14. Paul W., OM
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I just belatedly posted something in the old “Sam Harris on The Daily Show” thread, which may be apropos here, before we go round and round again about “objective” morality.

    The gist is that I think people often read too much into the idea of “objective” morality. The word “objective” just doesn’t necessarily imply most of the things that people seem to want of it when it’s applied specifically to morality.

    In particular, some categories of things are only relevant or interesting to humans because of certain facts about the way humans are. That’s okay—it doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t true or false statements about what’s in the category. It doesn’t mean that such judgments are subjective.

    For example, my statement that Michael Jordan is a better athlete than me is an objectively true statement. There’s lots of variation in what people consider “athletic” in funny cases—e.g., who you consider the best athlete in the world might depend on how much you value speed and physical coordination vs. strategic thinking—but by any standard Michael Jordan is objectively a better athlete than me, because he’s better in every way that could reasonably count as “athletic.”

    Similarly, there may be considerable variation in what moral systems people would end up with on rational reflection in light of actual facts, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some objectively true statements about what’s morally better.

    To use an example from Harris, FGM may be objectively wrong, because it’s against a basic constitutive principle of all moral systems.

    FGM isn’t just wrong by our own cultural standards. It’s wrong by the standards of any human culture, including the cultures where people commonly do it. They only manage to make it seem moral by basic their reasoning on falsehoods, e.g., that there’s a God who basically doesn’t like women’s sexuality, etc.

    IMHO, if you managed to convince those people that those things were factually false, they’d eventually find FGM morally unsupportable, using basic principles of morality that they could recognize.

    (E.g., in any culture it’s not okay to inflict grievous bodily harm on your children for no good reason—there has to be some justification that it’s for the girls’ own good in the bigger picture, or for the good of her family or society, or to appease a God who it’s generally beneficial to appease.)

  15. Mike
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    “With or without [religion] you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

    Dr. Weinberg’s statement seems wide of the mark to me. What it takes for good people to do bad things are in-groups and out-groups, rigid hierarchies, powerful elites, and a dogmatic belief system. I think that nationalism, ethnic tribalism, and political ideologies, as well as religion, might each suffice given the right circumstances.

    • Paul W.
      Posted October 18, 2010 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      I agree. Weinberg was being sloppy.

      I think the truth is that religion has a tendency to coevolve with societies in ways that justify injustice.

      Religion is a systematic generator of spurious facts that make it seem moral to deny others moral consideration.

      (We’re the Chosen people, they’re a threat to our moral fiber; we have the book that tell us what’s right and wrong, they’re misled by false prophets; our political scheme is endorsed by god, theirs is an abomination. We’re justified in promoting our culture at the expense of others because we have The One True Religion, they’re against all that’s right and true because they oppose the One True Religion. And of course we deserve more goodies than them, because we’re being rewarded for being righteous, and they’re being punished for their sinful ways in this life or a past one.)

      To rationalize injustice, all you need is some convenient spurious “facts.”

      Religion is the traditional generator and reinforcer of convenient spurious facts, but there are certainly others.

    • Posted October 18, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Of course, many people would say that describes gnu atheists, so…

      • Paul W.
        Posted October 18, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        Right, they would.

        Come the revolution, they’ll be first against the wall.

  16. Kyle
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    While there is no question that the eugenics movement in Germany and the United States (among many other places) was pseudoscience, it was at the time taken very seriously, and perceived to be science. Sadly, at the time eugenicists were respected scholars with prominent positions in major universities. They published their work in major scientific journals and were well respected in the scientific community. However, what happened in Germany under the Nazis was a radicalization of these beliefs and it was not repeated to the same murderous extent elsewhere in the world for several important reasons. So while I don’t agree with Horgan’s argument it would be irresponsible to completely disregard the role of science and scientists in the Final Solution. The methods and tools used to kill the Jews in extermination centers were born in the “euthenasia” programs and were developed by doctors and German scientists.

    • Paul W.
      Posted October 18, 2010 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      I think you’re still overstating the role of contemporary science.

      Certainly, there was some co-option of science to support the Nazis’ agenda, but the far more important drivers were clearly Christian antisemitism and generic nationalist/racist othering. Maybe you can blame “science” to a minor extent, but nowhere near as much as you can blame Lutheranism and Catholicism. (Hitler’s treatment of the Jews was essentially late Luther, and Catholic popes had been saying horridly antisemitic stuff forever. Hitler made it quite clear that his antisemitism was traditional Christian antisemitism.)

      As for extermination technology, the main enabler was railroads that made it possible to conveniently and economically ship millions of people to the killing grounds.

      As I understand it, the actual extermination technology (Zyklon B gas in “showers”) was not developed for earlier, smaller-scale euthanasia. It was a straightforward one-off engineering solution to killing massed people with as little fuss and trouble as possible.

      I find it hard to imagine that Zyklon B was critical. Bullets just aren’t that expensive, and some other gas or other sufficiently convenient killing technique could have been found. Compared to railroads and cattle cars—old tech not invented for that purpose—it’s a very minor detail.

      Clearly, James Watt caused the Holocaust, evil genius that he was.

  17. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    I’ve often wondered about the is/ought problem. If you provisionally accept the naturalistic/deterministic idea of the world, then the is/ought problem is seen to be a false question – there is no ‘ought’.

    Having said that people do have their own individual values deriving from their nature and their nurture. And well being can be considered as an end worth persuing (cf Spinoza and ‘conatus’). Part of that individual well being is aligning your behaviours with your appreciation of the collective subjective values of your society. Many humans appear to be very susceptible to acting in conformity with what they believe is the general behaviour of others – and this may be the source of the ‘ought’. But the ‘ought’ is collective, subjective, and natural – and therefore amenable to scientific investigation.

    Can science produce an ‘absolute’ one-size-fits-all morality (set of values)? I doubt it, but I can foresee it being able to find the source of values within the human mind, and say how well they fit with the collective values held by a particular society.

    • Paul W.
      Posted October 18, 2010 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      If you provisionally accept the naturalistic/deterministic idea of the world, then the is/ought problem is seen to be a false question – there is no ‘ought’.

      Only if you’re committed to an unrealistic idea of what an “ought” is.

      The scientific approach is to treat “oughts” as a “natural kind” and find out what they actually are, and why.

      Only then can you understand the phenomenon well enough to say what counts as an ought and what doesn’t, and what kinds of oughts there are.

      This is similar to the idea of “free will,” and somewhat related. While we apparently do not have the kind of nondeterministic free will that orthodox theologians would like—the one that gets God off the hook for the Problem of Evil—we clearly do have free will in other useful senses. (a la Dennett in Elbow Room)

      We can make some scientific sense of the commonsense notions of choosing, morality, and blaming, although some commonsense assumptions will have to fall by the wayside.

      • Tulse
        Posted October 18, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        The scientific approach is to treat “oughts” as a “natural kind”

        And the justification for that is…? Why can they not be treated as social constructions? Or as individual sentiments? Or any of the other approaches to morality?

        One major problem Harris has is bootstrapping — if you want to argue that biology is the arbiter of morality, you can’t use biology to do so.

        • Paul W.
          Posted October 18, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink
          The scientific approach is to treat “oughts” as a “natural kind”

          And the justification for that is…? Why can they not be treated as social constructions?

          If Harris is right, morality at a basic deep level is not socially constructed in a strong sense—it’s basically a biologically given kind of phenomenon. The socially constructed bits are strongly constrained by the biology.

          The scientific way to approach a phenomenon like that is to discover its structure and function empirically, not to assume that a moral system is an arbitrary collection of axioms.

          If you’re not familiar with the idea of “natural kinds” in philosophy, consider the statement water is H20.

          That’s not an a priori truth—we didn’t define water as H20 and go around looking for real things that met our definition. We had to discover that water is in fact H20.

          That’s an a posteriori but necessary truth—if something is H20, it’s water, and if something is not H20, it’s not water.

          That’s the normal thing in science—we observe instances of real but poorly understood phenomena, then study them to figure out what they really are, and in light of that, what would or wouldn’t count as one of those things.

          Harris is just doing that absolutely normal thing with morality. He’s saying we have a whole bunch of examples of morality, and they turn out to have certain basic things in common; morality works in certain ways and not others.

          (It also malfunctions in particular ways—in particular by rationalizing things in terms of spurious “facts.” That is arguably a function of morality at a certain social level, as well as a malfunction at the basic psychological level.)

          I don’t think this is just picking an arbitrary criterion. It’s the scientific approach we take to most things. You work from examples and try to see the forest, not just the trees.

          It’s also not as philosophically odd as a lot of people would have you think—the ones who make it sound like Harris is philosophically naive.

          A big fraction of philosophers, if not a majority, think that Harris is basically right. They are moral realists who think that morality is not an arbitrary social construction, and that a lot of moral disagreement is due to disagreement over otherwise value-neutral facts.

          Or as individual sentiments?

          I don’t know what you mean by that.

          It seems pretty clear that only certain kinds of things count as moral sentiments, and that there are certain kinds of dependencies of high-level moral sentiments on more basic moral sentiments. There’s characteristic structure there, however dimly people perceive it.

          Or any of the other approaches to morality?

          Do you have a specific alternative in mind that seems better, or at least plausible? Is it incompatible with treating morality as a natural kind?

          • Tulse
            Posted October 18, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

            If Harris is right, morality at a basic deep level is not socially constructed in a strong sense—it’s basically a biologically given kind of phenomenon.

            So are many other kinds of phenomena, like sneezing. What makes a biologically-based morality any more of a morality than, say, sneezing? One can’t justify the relevance of the biological approach by citing biology — that’s simply circular reasoning.

            A big fraction of philosophers, if not a majority, think that Harris is basically right. They are moral realists

            …which isn’t necessarily a great endorsement, given that the biggest proponents of moral realism and “Natural Law” are the religious, of course. Just saying’.

            • Paul W.
              Posted October 18, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

              I get the feeling that we’re talking past each other somehow, and it may have something to do with what we mean by “biology.”

              Let me back up and say that I think that the constitutive principles of morality are psychological.

              The importance of biology is twofold: 1) it’s what creates the psychological regularities that make morality psychologically possible and the distinctive psychological kind of thing that it is, and 2) the evolutionary story makes it make sense—it explains why such a thing would happen and be the kind of thing that it is.

              If Harris is right, morality at a basic deep level is not socially constructed in a strong sense—it’s basically a biologically given kind of phenomenon.

              So are many other kinds of phenomena, like sneezing. What makes a biologically-based morality any more of a morality than, say, sneezing? One can’t justify the relevance of the biological approach by citing biology — that’s simply circular reasoning.

              Okay, let’s consider breathing. Breathing is something that people observed people doing, gave the phenomenon a name, and had all kinds of weird stories about.

              Later, we figured out what breathing is, with muscles altering the shape of the rib cage to create a partial vacuum, exchange of gases, oxygenation being important to metabolism, dumping of CO2 being important in a different way, and so on.

              That scientific story was inconsistent with a lot of people’s preconceptions—it didn’t involve phlogiston, which turned out not to exist, much less magic essences that infuse people with life.

              You might ask, who were biologists to use biology to settle the question of what breathing is, when people disagreed fundamentally on what breathing was, e.g., whether it was fundamentally mechanical or fundamentally magical.

              The answer is that biologists were the people who got it right. Breathing turned out to be entirely explicable in biological terms, and the alternative explanations were basically wrong.

              The word “breathing” was applied to an actual phenomenon, and the actual phenomenon is more important than people’s largely erroneous misconceptions about it.

              Similarly, if morality is explicable in biological terms—broadly construed, including game theory, etc.—then we should be able to do the same thing. If it’s a fairly coherent natural kind of phenomenon, and there turns out to be correct explanation of what it is and why it is the way that it is, then we win—we’ve described and explained the actual phenomenon named “morality.”

              If morality turned out not to be a particular relatively coherent kind of phenomenon, this would not work.

              For example, if you looked at moral systems around the world and found they had nothing in common, and many people didn’t even have words for “morality” or “wrong,” you might justifiably suspect that there isn’t a coherent “natural kind” of morality, and it’s a bunch of very different, only slightly overlapping, radically socially constructed categories, with no core principles.

              I don’t think that’s the case, and I think it’s an empirical issue whether it’s the case. Morality, like breathing, is an evolved function that works the same basic way everywhere, even if there are many superficial differences of great practical importance.

              This is not circular reasoning—it’s not just defining morality as a biological kind. It’s making an empirically falsifiable claim that it is a biological kind. (More precisely, a psychological kind that is strongly constrained by the biology that underlies the psychology.)

            • Paul W.
              Posted October 19, 2010 at 6:07 am | Permalink
              A big fraction of philosophers, if not a majority, think that Harris is basically right. They are moral realists

              …which isn’t necessarily a great endorsement, given that the biggest proponents of moral realism and “Natural Law” are the religious, of course. Just saying’.

              I don’t think most moral realist philosophers are religious. The large majority of philosophers are atheists, and whole a lot of them are moral realists, without believing in any spooky magical Moral Law—just stuff that more or less amounts to basic ideas from multilevel game theory and evolutionary psychology.

  18. Tyro
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    While on the subject, I just finished Ayan Hirsi Ali’s “Nomad” and “Infidel” which have convinced me that some cultures are simply better than others and that we who support the Western cultures and the Enlightenment ideals need to do more work to promote them, not merely wait and assume that immigrants and foreigners will see our way of life and adopt it. If anyone here hasn’t read them yet, I strongly encourage you to give them a try. Infidel is an autobiography and the more entertaining of the two while Nomad reads more like an academic lecture – an engaging one but definitely aimed more at activists and thought leaders than at a broad reading public. Still they’re powerful and have a lot to offer to anyone in the secular or feminist movement.

    I’ve got Harris’s book on my shelf, hope to get to it soon.

    • Tyro
      Posted October 18, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Just to elaborate on why I mentioned Hirsi-Ali (not just because Harris has supported her).

      In addition to attacking the problems in Islam, she has a lot of harsh words to say about cultural/moral relativism. Many feminists and secular leaders who would seem to be allies have ended up fighting her message out of some misguided belief that cultures must be preserved and there’s inherent value in traditions, no matter how abhorrent. In “Nomad”, she explains how she has formed common-cause with Christian, enlightened churches to fight Islamic influences where many liberal, secular and feminist people have refused to take a stand.

      Based solely on reviews and speeches from Harris (I’ll read his book soon, promise), I think he’s not so much developing an overreaching moral framework capable of answering all questions but showing that there are actions which are immoral and we can say this without resorting to religion, without appearing “imperialist”, sexist or racist (bugaboos of the moral relativist left).

      Just as the New Atheist books helped launch entirely new discussions and media topics, I hope that we as a community can use Harris’s book to push these issues into the mainstream.

      • Diane G.
        Posted October 18, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        I agree that reading Hirsi-Ali is one of the most thought-provoking endeavors one can undertake. The views of a person not raised in the Western tradition, who arrives at Enlightenment values through education and critical thinking, are absolutely bracing to those of us lucky enough to have grown up in more liberal societies, in which perhaps too much is taken for granted. Her books also deliver a much-merited skewering of the deference to “cultural relativism” so often encountered in post-modern liberal movements, as you point out.

        And ironically, she thus finds herself a pariah in the very disciplines one would think would embrace her message.

        I admit I disagreed with some of her suggestions in Nomad, but by then I respected her intelligence & diligence so much that I am not ready to totally dismiss them.

        • Diane G.
          Posted October 18, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

          (Replying to myself in order to remember to check the ‘notify me’ box…bleah.)

  19. Sastra
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Pseudoscience is to science as “false” religion is to “true” religion. I think one battlefield is easier to bring reason to — and easier to win an eventual consensus on — than the other.

    • MadScientist
      Posted October 18, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      “false” religion and “true” religion are the very same thing, but pseudoscience is not science.

  20. MadScientist
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Short Horgan: Only god can give you morality.

    • Screechy Monkey
      Posted October 18, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      I think that’s unjust. Horgan can be irritating at times; he loves to tweak what he sees as the “arrogance” of scientists, and I think he’s often too quick to do so. But I don’t think he can fairly be called an apologist for religion.

      Horgan even says specifically in the linked review:

      Given all the crimes committed in religion’s name, Harris retorts, why would anyone look to it for moral guidance?

      I’m with Harris up to this point.

      I suppose the question left unanswered is how Horgan thinks we should answer moral questions, if we’ve ruled out religion and science. Philosophy? Art? Contemplative meditation? But I don’t think it’s really his obligation to set forth a competing theory in what is just a short book review.

      • MadScientist
        Posted October 18, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

        I see Horgan saying “no no no, Harris is wrong!” but I don’t see him saying why or suggesting what else can be done, which is why his piece sounds like a “god is the source of morals” piece. Horgan’s argument is weak at best – if he is not arguing for god as the source of morals he is proclaiming that questions of morals are beyond scientific scrutiny. On the other hand if Horgan is indeed proclaiming that questions of morals are beyond scientific scrutiny, ethicists (especially the philosophers who try to test ideas) and behavioral scientists would find that a shocking revelation.

    • Sputnik
      Posted October 18, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      No, I’m pretty sure Horgan is a non-believer.

  21. Jeff A
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    I quite after reading the first four words of this post. John Horgan is the worst science writer ever.

    • tomh
      Posted October 19, 2010 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      There’s a lot of competition for that trophy. I would nominate Nicholas Wade of the NY Times as the one to beat in the category.

  22. JS1685
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Regarding blithely dismissing the derivation of “ought” from “is”:

    I understand Hume’s objection to the “ole switcheroo,” whereby authors begin describing an “is,” but somewhere along the way begin asserting what “ought to be.” In other words, making an Appeal to Nature. Yes, “is” and “ought” are distinct concepts, and one shouldn’t conflate or confuse them.

    But it seems to me that “is” is all there is! Whence DO we derive “ought” if not from some kind of “is”?

  23. Posted November 13, 2010 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    The is-ought fallacy is a real fallacy, and is why knowledge is justified, true belief. In order to be knowledge, a belief must both be justified by the evidence, and true by correspondence. If we consider justified a belief that only corresponds, we commit the is-ought fallacy. If we consider a belief true merely due to evidence in favor of it, we commit the ought-is fallacy. Related to moral truth–if a justified (answering the question of Ethics–“How and why should we be or behave with the Other and self?”) moral standard doesn’t describe anything in reality, to consider it “true” commits the ought-is fallacy. If we take something from reality and call it moral truth, neglecting to consider whether it is justified (answering the question of Ethics), we commit the is-ought fallacy. In order for there to be moral truth, it must both correspond to (a) real being, and it must be justified (answering the question of Ethics). Its correspondence is not its justification (is=/=ought), and its justification is not its correspondence (ought=/=is).


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