The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

Author: Sam Harris

Personal Score: 7.2/10

Goodreads Score: 3.91/5

Get it here on Amazon.


In Moral Landscape, Harris puts up an effective argument for his worldview that science, not religion, should be the grounds on which we navigate morality. For the most part, I came into this book in agreement with this hypothesis so I didn't have much to critique. Per usual, Harris puts up a solid and well-supported view here however I do feel his argument lacks in the implementation aspect of science-backed morality.

🚀This Book in 3 Bullets

🕵️‍♀️Adlers' How to Read a Book Investigation (4 Questions)

🧩What is the book about as a whole? (General topic & context)

🔍Is the book true in whole or in part? (what are the strong points & critiques)

There are many critiques, of course from religious philosophers and peers to Sam Harris. I've shared my own opinion in the next section but here are some of the critiques and reviews I found on the internet (I wanted to compile them for readers to see the objections):

*Sam Harris's response to these criticisms here:

🕸️What of it? How does this information fit into your understanding?

I completely agree that science and specifically, our understanding of well-being will inevitably be the guiding light to morality in the future of humanity. But religion does a fantastic job of embedding a moral compass (even if that compass is distorted) into the heart and minds of children and adults. Religions proactively cultivate a moral compass by 1) making very clear moral directions (Ie. good and evil) and 2) through rituals and sermons that exercise the practice of favorable moral directions. Science can do this, no doubt. But it hasn't made this a priority and therefore most of our culture gathers what's right and wrong from religious practices and as a result people naturally tie morality into the fabric of religion. I'd worry about the consequences to society on mass if Harris's wish for the world changed overnight. I think it's critical to have moral principles exercised and drilled into us consistently. How would this look without any religious activity?

I think Harris is correct in his assertion that science should be the light we use to discover the moral landscape as it's reached a point where it's very clearly better suited for the job BUT this only one step in a thousand step journey. It's one thing to state a philosophical argument and another (much more challenging) to outline a practical map to see it manifest into reality. In my opinion, Harris makes a good first step but barely touches the surface of what needs to be done to substitute religion with science as a moral lighthouse.

PS. I don't think Harris intended to lay out a plan, this is just a question I kept realizing throughout the text myself and it seems Harris tackles it with limited and simple explanations.

📜Book Summaries & Key Lessons

🎴Top Quotes

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