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The Moral Landscape Hardcover – 7 Apr 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press (7 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593064860
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593064863
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 2.9 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 231,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

This is an inspiring book --The Financial Times

Book Description

An explosive new book that calls for an end to religion's monopoly on morality.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 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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62 of 70 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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3 of 3 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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70 of 81 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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Format: Paperback
This was a very enlightening book, and might be my favorite one from Sam Harris. Given that Harris is considered one of the most formidable "new atheists", people will look at this book as anti-religious (which it certainly is). But it's important not to overstate that element; Harris is just suggesting that there are other places to get your morals and values besides a holy book.

Much of Harris's argument deals with the idea of suffering. The more we know about science (in particular neuroscience and the brain), the more we are learning are the nuance of suffering. There are different types of suffering, the most obvious one related to physical pain; and we essentially know that all conscious creatures have the capacity to suffer. Harris's discussion of morals boils down the goal of minimizing suffering; as he states it, avoiding "the worst possible misery for everyone".

It's a great book that's has it's moments of difficulty, but in general is a fairly easy and enjoyable read. I think any book that examines morality in any capacity is one worth taking a look at.

After reading the book, I viewed some of Harris's public speaking engagements. He often repeats many of the ideas in his book in these lectures/debate (which can be found online) - so they are worth a watch if you want to reinforce the ideas found within.
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