Why every opinion has to be counted?

Whenever we are talking about facts certain opinions must be excluded. 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 every culture has a point of view on these subjects worth considering? Does the Taliban have a point of view on physics that is worth considering? No. How is their ignorance any less obvious on the subject of human well-being?    – Sam Harris on TED

Watch Sam Harris on Science can answer moral questions, or read complete transcript.

6 thoughts on “Why every opinion has to be counted?

  1. The short answer to this is no.
    Not every opinion is worth counting.

    I am astounded at the American news machine and its inability to understand this. Some complete moron with no scientific background, for instance, can determine school curriculum topics. (This is how schools include the absolutely ridiculous & unscientific discussion of evolution versus creationism in classrooms. It seems to make us an international embarrassment … we won’t see the ramifications of this for another generation or two or so, but it will rear its ugly head.)


  2. I’m going to argue that this is an illusion — that the separation between science and human values is an illusion — and actually quite a dangerous one at this point in human history.

    Now, it’s often said that science can not give us a foundation for morality and human values, because science deals with facts, and facts and values seem to belong to different spheres.

    It’s often thought that there is no description of the way the world is that can tell us how the world ought to be. But I think this is quite clearly untrue. Values are a certain kind of fact. They are facts about the wellbeing of conscious creatures.

    “Science” is simply a record of what we have experienced, learnt, theorised and deduced about our existence in this universe. It is what we have created with the best of our present knowledge. It would be foolish to say we know it all and its perfect. Science cannot tell us anything that we have not fed it to tell us.

    We can only see what our telescopes can reach. We have no knowledge of the universe beyond. We do not know why we are born or what happens to us after we die. We do not know how we think, we do not know how we reason.

    Science is far from capable to explain how we know what we know.

    Till we do, we have to rely on our ability to reason to decide on the rights and wrongs. To define morality.

    Using science to justify morality in my “opinion” is utter rubbish. But does my opinion count?


    1. Oh yes, Your opinion counts, a lot.

      First on the content I extracted. We sill come to science and its view on morality in a minute. Before that I want to stand by the words in “bold” in the post. It came from Sam Harris. That’s the reason there are references to science. If it were someone else , like a poet or a painter the question would remain still the same and very valid. Why should I consider the opinion of someone who does not have any field expertise on my work (poem or painting), Why his opinion has to count. In this context the last part also will remain same

      No. How is their ignorance any less obvious on the subject of human well-being?

      Coming back to science is not able to answer moral question. If we look back in our long history at any given point of time we can see there is at least one strong opinion on what science cant do. For example : Science cant explain why there is day and night. Finally it will be proven that those things fall into territory of science and it will be answered eventually. What i would like to highlight here is, one day science will grow into so deeper and micro level so every question we have will be answered.

      “Science cannot tell us anything that we have not fed it to tell us” I totally disagree with this. How else scientists would have done so many discoveries and inventions without being sceptics ?

      We have no knowledge of the universe beyond. We do not know why we are born or what happens to us after we die.

      Science doesn’t know this yet, they will eventually. But its general enemy religion, does not know that either.


  3. Hey you say my opinion counts, then please let me ramble a bit more.

    What I meant was, “science” as we know it is what we have found about the macro/micro world around us and how we write it down.

    Our learning came first, and organising that knowledge into our perception of “science” followed.

    But we still do not know “how we come to know” – and how accurate or complete is that higher function.

    If it ever happens that science does decides on morality and not human thoughts, logic and reasoning, I will beg to be sent back to my next life as a dung beetle. I will be happier than being a human whose morals have been decided by laws of science.


    1. Oh yes, you certainly can:-) Write a guest post if you wish.

      I get your point, but I am still not convinced.

      Our learning came first and organising that knowledge into our perception of “science” followed.

      Agreed, please add religion somewhere in-between. Let’s add it because that’s what is so called alternative source to morality if science were not to exists. in between because invention of fire came first (that’s science) and religion came next.

      Now we have two options.
      Science, which is organisation of knowledge based on learnings of a species, called humans, over more than a million year when this clan started living, significantly better living then other earthlings. Not to forget, this is ever expanding, open to criticism, and self correcting system. It keeps expanding its territory and it claims it has better understanding on human morality as well.

      On the other side, there is religion and Gods, from last two millenniums (give or take for some). This was loud owner of morality, based on standards and knowledge of a particular date some two millennium old. Now this is not a self correcting system, that means better understanding is not accepted. It is not open to criticism and never expands. In addition to all those, it give a big room for “A la carte” interpretation, which is almost always wrong.

      Now if two people from each of these groups come forward and ask you to pick one, which one would you pick. My choice is quite clear.

      Over to you 🙂


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