Science and Morality?

Sam Harris makes some interesting arguments for why science should be involved in evaluating moral arguments in his recent TED Talk. He argues that there is often not one “correct” position to take on an issue, but a range of position, some better, some worse than others, and that science can help us figure out which help people live more fulfilled lives.

For example, in looking at how societies portray the model of womanhood, there are probably a number of morally positive ways to do this in between the extremes of the Islamic Burka, and the overt sexuality on the covers of many western mens magazines.

Harris also addresses the issue of giving the same weight to all moral arguments, irregardless of their source.  He argues that some people are better at moral thinking that others, just like some people are better a physics than others, so why should we put the Dali Lama and Ted Bundy on the same footing when it comes to looking at moral arguments?

A thought provoking video even if you don’t agree with everything he says.



  1. That was fantastic! I love TED and now I love it even more. Some day I want to either go to the conference or be asked to speak. Time is running down to reach in and pull out that greatness.

    My favourite parts (and I took notes, paused and rewound several times):
    1. How do human being flourish individually and in a community?
    2. We must admit it when part of our beliefs or a community to which we belong is adding to human suffering rather than adding to its well-being.
    3. Exceptions to the rules do not always change the rules. (I am always trying to change or manipulate the rules in some way.)
    4. What does voluntary mean? (Within a religious or cultural context.)
    5. “An idea open for revision does not make it vacuous.”
    6. There are equivalent ways to thrive as beings. More than one peak in the landscape of the human experience. More than one way to live and do it well and with flourish!
    7. As an educator on punishment, his comment that some see the way to teach children to be happy and make better choices is to subject them to physical pain and anguish (so good and so morally degrading to believe this!)
    8. Some day we will be able to scan brains to see if the moral choices we make are really helping the well-being in our lives? Amazing!

    Thanks for the video. I shall pass it on to a few friends who will enjoy it!

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