I'm sure there are some good ideas in his book. I haven't read it yet, I admit from teh outset. But I do find it amusing that - though I don't agree with his own gauge - according to the application of his own argument, Mr Harris has already suggested that he is a person who's ideas are NOT worth reading nor listening to. I'm referring to the interview promoting this book where Sam Harris wrote/said(?): "If, in response to the question about the [number of the] world's fish, someone were to say, 'there are exactly a thousand fish in the sea,' we know that this person is not worth listening to. And many people who have strong opinions on moral questions have no more credibility than this. Anyone who thinks that gay marriage is the greatest problem of the 21st century, or that women should be forced to live in burqas, is not worth listening to on the subject of morality."
Ermmm ... so, ...using that as a yardstick, what about the worth of reading a book on morality from someone who advocates torture as a means of intelligence gathering. Someone who advocates a method of inflicting the pain of torture in such a way that we do not have to witness the tortured-one's suffering nor the pain inflicted?
"we should be willing to torture a certain class of criminal suspects and military prisoners; if we are unwilling to torture, we should be unwilling to wage modern war." said Sam Harris. See that he wrote "suspects". Guilt based on suspicion only. What strange logic and what highly questionable morality. Basically isn't the idea: "we are intrinsically good and most fundamentalist religionists and terrorists are intrinsically bad so therefore we can do bad things to them and because its done to bad people and only in order to maximise well-being, therefore it becomes good and morally justifiable.' ??! :-o
Oh the irony that an American author and university professor who advocates maximising well-being can also advocate torture, pre-emptive war and bombing from the air of innocents, yet his fellow-American fans don't consider anything amiss? (For context and nuance search under : in-defense-of-torture + sam harris)
I myself am willing to read a book by an American who tacitly condones the bombing of innocents because he holds the belief that that is the nature of war and because he believes he is not a pacifist. But doesn't anyone else find it ironic?
Ironic because I can't imagine him trying to consider that as a moral argument for the torturing of Americans or the killing of innocent Americans via the bombing of American targets from a distance. I'm sure "No, no, no, that is terrorism," would be his protest.
He justifies America doing all that presumably because in his mind it was in order to protect his own cherished moral codes and cherished cultural values.
How is it that a son of the nation that only a few generations ago decimated and ethnically cleansed the native population of the land they stole in order to maximise what they at that time thought of as the greater good;
a son of the nation that then went on to get rich and prosperous on the suffering and misery of the slavetrade which they at that time justified in the belief that they were maximizing the well-being of their own kind, as well as the oppressed and suffering slaves by giving them the chance of salvation though the knowledge of the peculiar idea of a redeeming blood of their God's supposed slaughtered only begotten child;
a son of that very nation that has such a bloody and immoral recent past now wants and expects the less-developed and under-educated peoples of middle eastern lands who have endured and fought off for centuries the attentions and invasions of morally and militarily superior imperialistic nations, (e.g. Afghanistan, a largely destroyed society due, only in the last few decades, being used as a battle-ground of ideologies by that very same nation from which he is spawned and which he defends by immoral torture and bombings);
that a son of such a nation expects the people of such abused and used societies should embrace his own nations ideas of a superior morality because he argues it "maximizes well-being"??! :-o
Hi Kristensen You wrote:" you seem to take it at Harris's literal stance on the subject." Yes I do. I take him at this word. He wrote an article explicitly defending torture. Did you read it? He advocated and condoned the illegal and immoral torture of mere "suspects"! (And we all know that those "suspects" were people of middle-eastern ethnicity and from muslim backgrounds.) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/in-defense-of-torture_b_8993.html