Sometimes Harris seems to think that the course of conduct which maximizes global well-being is the morally right one because “morally right” just means something like “such as to maximize global well-being.” But this won’t do. It’s no use telling somebody (we’ll call her Alice) to act so as to maximize global well-being on the ground that this is the morally right thing to do, while also telling her that “morally right” just means “such as to maximize global well-being”: the upshot is that Alice is told to act to maximize global well-being because this will maximize global well-being! That’s circular. If she is more committed to a goal such as maximizing her own well-being, or that of her loved ones, than to maximizing global well-being, she is not thereby making a mistake about anything in the world. Nor is she doing anything self-defeating, if she maximizes her own well-being, or that of her loved ones, whenever these conflict with maximizing global well-being.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Blackford on Harris
Russell Blackford points out what's right, and what's wrong, with Sam Harris's The Moral Landscape.