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So here we are in the final lecture of

week one.
And to sort of summarize where, what we've
done so far.
We started off by talking about what
morality is.
Gave some examples, of moral violations,
talked about, the
power and importance of moral reasoning in
our everyday lives.
We turn to a, to philosophical approaches,
morality and distinguish the
consequentialist and the ontological
And then for the lectures that followed,
talked about the idea that what's driving
our moral
feelings and moral judgments to a large
are our gut, our, our emotions, our moral
And what I want to do in this final
is just talk about some big questions that
arise from this.
Now, the first big question is, is just a
summary of what we've been struggling
with so far.
Is Hume right?
Is, is, is really more reasoning just a
slave of the passions?
What's the proper relationship between
emotion and reason in everyday moral life?
Is everything emotional?
Does reason play any important role?
Now, up to now, I've been favoring the
view that emotion is critical.
And I've been presenting a lot of evidence
for that.
And you might imagine that
my answer to this question then would be,
no, I think reason is irrelevant.
But, what I'm going to do in the next week
and the weeks that follow is argue the
other side.
I'm going to.
Emotion plainly affects our morality.
But I want to try also persuade you that
reason, cold blooded rational
deliberation, thinking things through
also affects our moral lives.
And this is controversial, and
my goal in these lectures is not to
convince you of
one side versus the other, but rather to
sort of familiarize you
with the debate and equip you with the
understanding of the
data and the theories to allow you to make
your own decision.
Second big question is where do morals
come from?
So, how much of our moral judgments we've
been talking about, are intuitions about
trolley problems and murder and rape and,
and masturbation and
selling your body organs and eating dogs
and so on?
How much of this is explained by
evolution, so part of
our brain structured by our, our
evolutionary history, how much of
it is explained by personal, individual
experience, how much varies from
culture to culture, and how much of it is
just personal choice?
A sort of free will, if you want, that,
that people make
different moral judgments not for any
deeper reason than they choose to
do so.
And then the third question, the big
question maybe, is can
scientific inquiry - including
inquiry - help us with morality?
Can it help us be better people?
And people have strong views on this.
A lot of philosophers say, that's a basic
fallacy to think that, that, that we could
learn what's right, from studying
psychology or studying
the world.
It is a fallacy to go from the way the
world is, which is what science
studies, to the way the world ought to be,
which is the proper domain of ethics.
But things might be more complicated than
and we're going to struggle with these
questions, throughout.
I want to end this week by presenting you
with two views about morality.
And these views are associated with two
one we've met before Jonathan Height, the
second one is Sam Harris.
And for the reading, for the assignments
for this week you're supposed
to watch their TED talks where they
present their view in detail.
What I want to do here is, as a way
to introduce it, present a snippet from
each of their talks.
And what I like about, about this is
they're each articulate proponents of
a perspective on morality, but the
perspectives are quite different.
They are, they are, are as close to
opposites as you could find.
So, Sam Harris, argues there's object the
facts about the moral landscape.
His, his word for this was, space of human
And it, what makes it a moral landscape
is, the space has
hills where, where things are good, and
valleys where things are bad.
And there are objective facts.
And he argues that many popular moral
views - particularly
those moral views that are grounded in
religious belief, that
come from the teachings of the Koran or
the Old
Testament or the New Testament or whatever
- are just wrong.
They're as wrong about morality as they
are about, you know, cosmology.
>> Now, what stands in the way of this?
Well, one thing to notice is that we,
we do something different when talking
about morality,
especially secular, academic, scientist
When talking about morality, we value
differences of opinion in a
way that we don't in any other area of our
So, for instance, the Dalai Lama, gets
up every morning, meditating on
compassion, and
he thinks that helping other human beings
is an integral component of human
On the other hand, we have someone like
Ted Bundy.
Ted Bundy was very fond of abducting
and raping and torturing and killing young
So we appear to have a genuine difference
of opinion about how to profitably use
one's time.
>> [LAUGH]
>> Most western intellectuals look at
this situation and say, well there's
nothing for the Dalai Lama to be really
right about, really right about.
Or for Ted Bundy to be really wrong about.
That admits of a, of a real argument.
That, that, that, that potentially falls
within the purview
of science.
Well, you know, that he's like chocolate,
he likes vanilla there's, there's no,
there's nothing
that one should be able to say to the
other, that should persuade the other.
Now notice that we don't do this in
In the left you have Edward Witten, he's a
string theorist.
If you asked the smartest physicist
Who's the smartest physicist around?
In my experience, half of them will say,
Ed Witten.
The other
half will tell you they don't like the
>> [LAUGH]
>> So, what would happen if I showed up
at a physics conference and said string
theory is bogus.
And it doesn't resonate with me, it's not
I choose to view the universe at the
smallest scale.
I'm not a fan.
>> [LAUGH]
>> Well, [COUGH]
nothing would happen because I'm not
a physicist, I don't understand string
I, I'm the Ted Bundy of string theory.
>> [LAUGH]
>> I wouldn't want to belong to any
theory club that would have me as a
But this is just the point, that whenever
are talking about facts, certain opinions
must be excluded.
Then, that is what it is to have a domain
of expertise.
That is what it is for knowledge to count.
How have we convinced ourselves that in
the moral sphere,
there is no such thing as moral expertise?
Or moral talent?
Or moral genius, even?
How have we convinced ourselves that every
opinion has to count?
How have we convinced ourselves that, that
every culture
has a point of view on these subjects
worth considering?
Does, does the Taliban have a point of
view on physics that is worth considering?
How, how is there ignorance, how is their
ignorance, how is
their ignorance any less obvious on the
subject of human well being?
>> [SOUND]
>> [COUGH]
So, so this I, I think is what the world
needs now.
It needs people like ourselves to admit
that there are right and wrong answers to
questions of human flourishing.
And morality relates to that domain of
It is possible, for individuals, and even
whole cultures to care about the wrong
Which is to say it's possible for them to
beliefs and desires that reliably lead to
needless human suffering.
Just admitting this, will transform our
about morality.
Kay, we, we, live in a, in a, in a world
in which, the
boundaries between nations mean less and
less, and they will one day mean nothing.
We live in a world filled with
destructive technology, and this
technology cannot be uninvented.
It, it will always be easier to break
things than to fix them.
It seems to me, therefore, patently
obvious that we can no more,
respect and tolerate vast differences in,
in notions of human well being than
we can respect or tolerate vast difference
in the notions about how disease spreads.
Or in the, in the safety standards of
buildings and airplanes.
We simply must converge on the answers we
give to the most important questions in
human life.
And to do that, we have to admit that
these questions have answers.
Thank you very much.
>> So Jonathan Hyde in contrast has a
very different perspective.
Haidt emphasizes a respect for pluralism.
In particular, he argues that many moral
including common ones that are grounded in
religion, deserve respect.
And so here is a clip from his TED talk.
>> You have the markings of, of Vishnu
on the
left, so we could think of Vishnu as the
conservative god.
You have the markings of Shiva, on the
Shiva is the liberal god, and they work
You find the same thing in Buddhism.
These two stanzas contain I think the
insights that have ever been attained,
into moral psychology.
From the Zen master Seng-ts'an.
If you want the trust to stand clear
before you, never be for or against.
The struggle between for and against is
the mind's worst disease.
Now unfortunately, it's a disease that has
been caught by many of the world's
But before you feel superior to George
Bush, before
you throw a stone, ask yourself, do you
accept this?
Do you accept stepping out of the battle
of good and evil?
Can you be not for or
against anything?
So what's the point?
What should you do?
Well, if you take the greatest insights
from ancient Asian philosophies and
religions and you
combine them with the latest research on
psychology, I think you'd come to these
That our righteous minds were designed by
evolution to unite us into teams,
to divide us against other teams, and then
to blind us to the truth.
So, what should you do?
Am I telling you to not strive?
Am I telling you to embrace Seng-ts'an and
Stop with with this struggle of for and
No, absolutely not.
I'm not saying that.
This is an amazing group of people, who
are doing
so much, using so much of their talent,
their brilliance,
their energy, their money to make the
world a better
place, to fight, to fight wrongs to, to
solve problems.
[COUGH] But as we learn from
Samantha Power, in her, in her story about
Sergio Vieira de Mello,
you can't just go charging in, saying
you're wrong and I'm right.
because as we just heard, everybody thinks
they are right.
A lot of the problems we have to
solve are problems that require to change
other people.
And if you want to change other people,
the much better
way to do it is to first understand who we
Understand our moral psychology,
understand that we all think we're right,
and then step out.
Even if it's just for a moment, step out,
check in with Seng-Ts'an.
Step out of the moral matrix, just try to
see it as,
as a struggle playing out in which
everybody does think they're right.
And everybody at least has some reasons,
even if you
disagree with them, everybody has some
reasons for what they're doing.
Step out, and if you do that,
that's the essential move to cultivate
moral humility.
To get yourself out of this
self-righteousness, which is the normal
human condition.
Think about the Dalai Lama.
Think about the enormous moral authority,
of the
Dalai Lama, and it comes from his moral
So I think the point, the point of, of my
talk, and I think the point of, the point
TED, is that this is a group that is
engaged in the pursuit of changing the
world for the better.
People here are passionately engaged in
trying to make the world a better place.
But there is also a passionate commitment
to the truth.
And so I think the answer is to use that
passionate commitment
to the truth to try and turn it into a
better future for
us all.
Thank you.
>> Well as, as we've seen, these are
very different views.
And, I'm, I have my own biases as to who I
But what again, what I hope to do is, as
we talk more and
more about the science of morality, talk
more about theories, talk more about data.
We'll be in a better position, all of us,
to better decide, what's the right answer
to these big and these very important