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  1. crappler is offline
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    Posted On:
    5/03/2013 6:45pm


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    Quote Originally Posted by W. Rabbit View Post
    Not the first or the last. I was one before he was. He just said everything I wanted to say better, clearer, and in a more entertaining way.
    "We often joke -- and we really wish it were a joke -- that you will only encounter two basic problems with your 'self-defense' training.
    1) That it doesn't work
    2) That it does work"
    -Animal MacYoung
  2. OwlMatt is offline

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    Posted On:
    5/21/2013 11:29am


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    Quote Originally Posted by ChuckWepner View Post
    Harris is a bright guy and has offered some sharp criticisms of organized religion. Despite his having an undergrad background in philosophy, though, his work suffers from some pretty serious philosophical errors, in his discussions of morality, metaphysics, and religion.

    He tends, for example, to rely on false dichotomies in which the alternatives are a caricature of a "religious" worldview on the one hand or Sam Harris's particular version of reductionist, determinist materialism (which is rejected by many materialist and atheist scientists and philosophers in favor of non-reductionist models) on the other. The fact that there are a wide range of other views held by thinkers just as bright as he is and often more expert on the issues he is discussing does not seem to interest Harris. He is a zealous advocate and rhetorician in his popular work, seeking to convert, not to proceed by careful, rational analysis or on the model of a scientific investigation.

    There are of course many zealous advocates of many religions trying to convert readers and listeners to their sides. I just think that it is important that we recognize who is doing what, whichever position they promote. Harris's views may coincide with those of people who identify themselves as skeptics, but he engages in about as much skeptical self-examination as Pat Robertson.

    Rather than trying to lay out an elaborate discussion of Harris's bad philosophical tendencies here, I recommend this review of one of Harris's recent books by H. Allen Orr, a philosophically astute Professor at the University of Rochester specializing in evolutionary biology who lays out some of the errors that Harris typically falls into in a pretty accessible way. In particular, sections 3 & 4 do a good job of this.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/arch...gination=false
    Thanks a lot for this, Chuck. I remember watching Harris' TED Talk; I was impressed by his critique of moral relativism but something irked me about the whole thing. I couldn't figure out what it was. This article has nailed it down for me: Harris never fully connects the dots between objective morality and scientific morality. And that's a big failure, because people like Kant make some pretty strong cases for moral objectivity on purely philosophical grounds without ever appealing to science.
  3. Resonance10 is online now
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    Posted On:
    5/21/2013 5:46pm

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    Quote Originally Posted by atheistmantis View Post
    I've read this entire thread as well as Orr's review of Harris's book. I'm having the same problem that Orr had with using an MRI to identify the regions in the brain where Harris drew his conclusions. Seems subjective to me. Still waiting for his books to arrive.
    I am reading the book again before I attempt to address Chuck's posts as he has the education I can only wish I had..gna attempt to slightly reduce the amount of stupid I look whilst learning something from the exchange. I don't remember the book containing much in the way of 'conclusions' so much as it being a rebuttal of the idea that science has nothing to say on the subject and a presentation of some of the methods and experimental approaches that might be applied.

    As I say though going to have another go at it. He may well be guilty of presenting 'weak sauce' as 'strong sauce'..
  4. Resonance10 is online now
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    Posted On:
    5/22/2013 1:37pm

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    Quote Originally Posted by OwlMatt View Post
    Thanks a lot for this, Chuck. I remember watching Harris' TED Talk; I was impressed by his critique of moral relativism but something irked me about the whole thing. I couldn't figure out what it was. This article has nailed it down for me:Harris never fully connects the dots between objective morality and scientific morality. And that's a big failure, because people like Kant make some pretty strong cases for moral objectivity on purely philosophical grounds without ever appealing to science.
    Huh? Not sure they had the tools in science or the growing understanding of the brain that we have now when Kant was around.
  5. OwlMatt is offline

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    Posted On:
    5/22/2013 2:01pm


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    Quote Originally Posted by Resonance10 View Post
    Huh? Not sure they had the tools in science or the growing understanding of the brain that we have now when Kant was around.
    That's not the point. The point is, if someone can make a good case for secular moral objectivity without appealing to science (as I think Kant does), then Harris' implication that secular moral objectivity requires science is called into question.
  6. Resonance10 is online now
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    Posted On:
    5/22/2013 2:09pm

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    Quote Originally Posted by OwlMatt View Post
    That's not the point. The point is, if someone can make a good case for secular moral objectivity without appealing to science (as I think Kant does), then Harris' implication that secular moral objectivity requires science is called into question.
    I know what your saying. My point is if the tools were available would Kant still be saying that?
  7. Resonance10 is online now
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    Posted On:
    9/02/2013 10:21am

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    Minor necro, but if anyone is interested there's a cash prize for refuting Sam Harris. Admittedly its his mind you have to change but Chuck and Owl Matt maybe you fancy a bash?

    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/t...ape-challenge1
  8. OwlMatt is offline

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    Posted On:
    9/02/2013 11:11am


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    Quote Originally Posted by Resonance10 View Post
    Minor necro, but if anyone is interested there's a cash prize for refuting Sam Harris. Admittedly its his mind you have to change but Chuck and Owl Matt maybe you fancy a bash?

    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/t...ape-challenge1
    I'd have to actually read the whole book to do that, I think, and I also suspect there are those who could do (and have done) a better job of this than I could.

    EDIT: Besides, I don't necessarily think that Harris is wrong, only that he hasn't done enough to support his thesis.
  9. 1point2 is offline
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    Posted On:
    9/02/2013 3:52pm

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    Harris has introduced a good amount of cognitive dissonance fodder--$9000 of his own money, to be exact--in favor of not recanting his view. That's a bit odd. If he hasn't been convinced by what's out there already, why does he think he could be convinced (in 1000 words!) now? The hypercynic in me supposes the possibility that he might have already seen holes in his thesis and could be using the awarding of the grand prize as an opportunity to show how open-minded he is. I don't think that's actually what's happening, but this whole thing is weird.

    Who would get the money if I simply edited the H. Allen Orr piece (which CheckWepner linked to above) down to 1000 words? Cause it seems to dismantle Harris' argument thoroughly. The guy is enamored with his own neuroimaging research, hasn't thought through the alternatives to utilitarianism, and confuses Is and Ought by playing loose with definitions.
    What a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable. -Xenophon's Socrates
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