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Moral Landscape Paperback – 5 Oct 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ome (5 Oct. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451612788
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451612783
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.5 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,400,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

This is an inspiring book --The Financial Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

An explosive new book that calls for an end to religion's monopoly on morality. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr Chris on 23 Jun. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sam makes a strong case that religious beliefs in morality must not be deemed above honest scientific investigation. The HUMAN BEINGS (Gods themselves being absent in the natural world) who enjoy power by being in the upper echelons of the religious elite dislike questioning exactly like other "unquestionable authorities" such as dictatorships and authoritarian regimes. It is clear that the improvement in ethical standards in modern times (and mainly in the West unfortunately) has little to do with godly edicts forever frozen in their time of revelation to us mortals. It has to do with honest and free discourse between peoples which has ONLY become permissible as fears of religion have weakened allowing unfettered human inquisitiveness on moral issues.

"GOD" gave us a questioning nature - big mistake on her part. So lets use it to ask her fans and representatives why they think thay have the copyright on morality.
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61 of 68 people found the following review helpful By D. Condliffe on 27 April 2011
Format: Hardcover
Brilliant!
I am doing an Msc in neuroscience and was recommended this book and was told it would be an interesting read for someone of my outlook on things. It certainly was. I can't recommend it enough to anyone with an interest in science.

As far as I can tell the message of this books is simple. Unless i'm wrong and i might be, see what you think.

1.Good and bad can not exist in a universe without consciousness. Simple enough.

2.If words like right and wrong or good and bad have any useful meaning they must represent increases in human happiness and well-being and decrease in human happiness and well-being respectively. People will disagree with this premise but I can't think of any definition for the words which doesn't lead to this conclusion, without being so vague as to make the words practically meaningless or a kind of theistic circular tautology where good is what god decides is good because god decides what's good because god decides what's good.

*Some may argue that if a psychopath gets their happiness increased by doing something to make another unhappy or subvert another's well-being then that has proved the above can't be the case. My issue with this is it disregards the effects to others. The pyschopath has decreased happiness and well-being of another. Similarly If someone helps another person and increases another's happiness and well-being but in the process has their own happiness and well-being diminished then that would almost certainly be called a good act. The increased happiness/well-being of the other would counter all but the most extreme negative effects to the helper. So surely the same is true for the negative effects felt by another after a psychopaths act.
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69 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Si Butler on 24 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is no more important debate. How do we decide what is right and wrong?

Most of the answers we hear are worthless (ranging from "just do it because my holy book says so" to the moral relativists who wont even condemn female genital mutilation).

Sam Harris makes the case for a sane alternative...

Morality is an evolved human attribute. It is universal - everyone with a normal brain has it. We all know instinctively what is good (love, kindness, compassion...) and what is evil (hatred, cruelty, violence...).

Understanding this basis for morality has a priceless reward - we can expect to arrive at a consensus. There is an objective morality because we are all human. And we can discover the details by studying the human mind. Evolutionary psychology - not a religious text - is the route to enlightenment.

If our civilisation survives this century it will be because we have learnt how to judge moral issues. This book is an excellent primer. Please read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Drifter on 2 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love how Sam Harris explains that some philosophical theories just increase "the total amount of boredom" in the world. If you want to read something about ethics that is applicable to the real world, and not boring at all, this book a good option. I agree with the importance he gives to increasing human well-being, and he can write about difficult subjects without making it boring or confusing. I strongly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary F. Stephen on 15 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Basically Harris exhausts his argument within the first 50 or so pages. It's very simple: we should make our decisions in utilitarian fashion (i.e. in such a way that maximises the happiness of society), and we will increasingly be able to use neuroscience to help us measure happiness. In this way, science can be used to answer moral questions.

I felt the rest of the book was simply padding. He gives examples and addresses counterarguments but it's not a particularly new way of thinking. Utilitarianism has been around for years - Harris is simply pointing out its practicability as science's capacity to quantify happiness improves.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Sokol on 20 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Among the main claims of "The Moral Landscape" is that there exists such a thing as an objective moral code, that it is more or less equivalent to a form of utilitarianism, and that science can be used to gain information about this moral code and thus about how we should structure our society. The book is divided into five chapters, and covers topics such as the existence of objective morality, the conflict between science and religion, the biological nature of belief and various cognitive biases.

I personally agree with Harris that science can help to promote human well-being, but I disagree that there exists an objective moral code. However, books can be well-written, interesting and enlightening even if one does not agree with the arguments put forward. In this particular case, however, I must admit that I found Harris' arguments to be somewhat muddled and meriting criticism on several accounts. This is the reason for my choosing to give the book only three stars. Apart from his ideas about morality, however, Harris also spends considerable time discussion the utilitarian value (or lack of the same) of science and religion, and these parts of the book are quite sensible and represents, in my view, a part of an important debate.

The following are two particular points where I found Harris' arguments to be lacking:

-Throughout the book, Harris criticises moral relativism, understood as the idea that "good and bad is subjective, and all such subjective moral claims are a priori equally valid". Harris points out many consequences of this moral relativism which are bad in utilitarian terms.
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