Earp, B. D. (in press). Science cannot determine human values.
Think: A Journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, in press.
Sam Harris, in his book The Moral Landscape, famously argues that “science can determine human values.” Against this view, I argue that while secular moral philosophy can certainly help us to determine our values, science—at least as that word is commonly understood—must play a subservient role. To the extent that science can “determine” what we ought to do, it is only by providing us with empirical information, which can then be slotted into a chain of deductive (moral) reasoning. The premises of such reasoning, however, can in no way be derived from the scientific method: they come, instead, from philosophy—and common sense.
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