Science can answer moral questions | Sam Harris

Science can answer moral questions | Sam Harris Questions of good and evil, right and wrong are commonly thought unanswerable by science. But Sam Harris argues that science can — and should — be an authority on moral issues, shaping human values and setting out what constitutes a good life.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Featured speakers have included Al Gore on climate change, Philippe Starck on design, Jill Bolte Taylor on observing her own stroke, Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child, Jane Goodall on chimpanzees, Bill Gates on malaria and mosquitoes, Pattie Maes on the “Sixth Sense” wearable tech, and “Lost” producer JJ Abrams on the allure of mystery. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, development and the arts. Closed captions and translated subtitles in a variety of languages are now available on, at Watch a highlight reel of the Top 10 TEDTalks at

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  • Graeme SYDNEY

    America – a society that has given the world Donald Trump and Sam Harris – go figure.

    (Now there is a good inquiry question)

    (The standing ovation is well deserved – I wish I had been there.)

  • Detlef Roters

    is see what you mean they are all chouting something

  • Detlef Roters

    yo you are changing my brain is it moraly alouwd

  • joonlar jj

    morals are subjective not objective. harris is a dummy

  • blacksileighty2

    This man is absolutely brilliant.

  • Alex Davila

    so basically Ayn Rand and objectivist ethics

  • Jack Barman

    I myself am a utilitarian and it seems as though Sam Harris is in effect utilitarianism. One problem that I see in his argument though is that while science can tell us what situations produce what amount of wellbeing (also known as "Theory of Life"), we must rely on philosophy to justify why wellbeing is good or why it ought to have value.
    I am of the stance that wellbeing is the label for the state of being that conscious creatures that are able to have "emotions" desire or prefer if they were rational and informed. Wellbeing then, is good/has value and should be maximized.

    One may of course bring up Hume's is vs ought distinction, but it seems to me that wellbeing is valuable for conscious creatures and if your not a conscious creature, then it wouldn't matter anyway because your not conscious of that makes any sense.
    I do find Hume's problem quite persuasive, but perhaps possible to get around when looking at morality in practice (conscious creatures are able to value things)

  • Luke Dodson

    seems to have changed his mind on the Artificial intelligence situation. all minds are subject to chamge though.

  • BaldingEagle51

    Humans can't answer moral questions, because other humans answer moral questions differently. Hence, politics and legislation. Therefore, Science can't answer moral questions. Now, this is an early speech, but since then he's likely encountered some philosophical and psychological thoughts and facts that have made him think a bit deeper.

  • Evanderson Bitencourt

    PR 13:24 Whoever holds back his rod[Or “discipline; punishment.”] hates his son, But the one who loves him disciplines him diligently[Or possibly, “promptly.”]. (Proverbs 22:15: "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a boy, But the rod of discipline will remove it far from him."; Ephesians 6:4: "And fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and admonition of Jehovah(God's name: יהוה)".

  • culturevulture2011

    I am so amazed at how he can extemporize with such a clear head and clear thought processes on so many subjects. Not only just an excellent memory, but the organization of thoughts within his mind and his ability to articulate them so well never fails to astonish me.

  • Menno Pietersen

    Man 6 years old… EVERYBODY who thinks burkas are ok, being gay is wrong, or religion makes you moral should watch this.

  • Diego Aravena R.

    its similar to ayn rands objective morality that stems from the primary value of "life", if u have it u will follow a pro-life morality, if u dont value life then it would be moral to follow anti-life behaviors. values > morality > behaviors > identity

  • Keith Klassen

    This is really just the Western mindset jerking itself off. Like, I don't really disagree with a lot of his assertions, but really, most of his points are just that: mere assertions, not backed up by any kind of universal perspective, or evidence. He seems utterly unaware of his place in the intellectual sphere of the world; the idea that we are in a position to "allow" or "not allow" people to act on their values is an idea that is deeply colonialist. That doesn't necessarily make it wrong, but it is colonialist.