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The Great Debate Panel - Comments

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 1 by alaskansee

Nice to listen to this type of debate without having to put up with theists stupidity, more please.

Thu, 11 Nov 2010 23:22:49 UTC | #546060

Andrew B.'s Avatar Comment 2 by Andrew B.

Bad: Panel includes a moderator Good: It's Roger Bingham yay!

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 00:13:25 UTC | #546086

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 3 by Neodarwinian

I will have to listen to this several times for the complete digestion of all the discussion points.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 01:04:36 UTC | #546106

Dean Buchanan's Avatar Comment 4 by Dean Buchanan

Well that was good for just under 42 minutes. I had never thought about the point made by Patricia re: ought/is.

It seemed that Simon was being more snarky than the others. Maybe that is because I'm from the U.S., or maybe not. Did he do anything but defend philosophy as an academic discipline?

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 01:26:20 UTC | #546120

Zelig's Avatar Comment 5 by Zelig

I wonder if Sam has read Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground regarding human "well being"? I see no solution to the problem of "masochism", which itself leads back to the dialogue between Socrates and Protagoras. It isn't simply a matter of prudence. On the other hand, this incompleteness is often taken to absurd and culturally and psychologically damaging conclusions in the "it's wrong to criticise the Taliban" type nonsense.

Sorry to say, but I found the debate largely sterile and pointless.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 01:30:36 UTC | #546123

maria melo's Avatar Comment 6 by maria melo

Comment Removed by Author

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 02:12:58 UTC | #546140

maria melo's Avatar Comment 7 by maria melo

Interesting, but a bit very unpleasant to me and it would take me too long to understand why I disliked it. Perhaps the idea of two cultures, and Sam Harris, some how seemed disturbing some how. well, Steven Pinker seems very convincing to me even when even don´t know the bottom of the issue.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 02:14:18 UTC | #546141

MarkMyers's Avatar Comment 8 by MarkMyers

I am not accustomed to a debate where everyone is reasonable. Like fresh air!

Sam Harris stood out. I like that he was a little bolder to offer and back up some answers. It is easy for a skeptic to cast doubt, harder to use skepticism constructively.

8:30 "We are all ... scientists, is so far as we are intellectually honest in trying to have our beliefs about the world and our certainty about those beliefs be in scale with the world."

Great lesson regarding misogyny around 10 min. I think.

11:05 "We have flown the perch of evolution"

11:13 "Evolution has not designed us to build a stable global civilization, and yet clearly our future happiness is largely predicated on that."

12:20 "There is no clear boundary between philosphy and science."

Of course the others made lots of good points, too.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 02:27:14 UTC | #546145

daniel.index's Avatar Comment 9 by daniel.index

Great authors. Great debate.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 02:47:17 UTC | #546149

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 10 by Alternative Carpark

Oh, this is different from the audio posted the other day. I'll listen to this after lunch.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 03:10:43 UTC | #546155

SimonB's Avatar Comment 11 by SimonB

MORE!!!!!!

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 03:52:13 UTC | #546163

HappyPrimate's Avatar Comment 13 by HappyPrimate

Very interesting and most enjoyable. Much food for thought.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 05:06:50 UTC | #546178

Chrisss212's Avatar Comment 14 by Chrisss212

I agree with Sam that science can determine moral values, but do we really want to live in a society where we have Sam's moral expert telling us what we should and shouldn't be doing? It can lead to a slippery slope. Sam's moral expert could be telling certain people- "You must not have children because it would be immoral for you to do so. You don’t have the right genes (or something)" or the moral expert could say “greater depths of happiness could be achieved if everyone stopped drinking alcohol". It could lead down to a slippery slope where we end up living in a society where our freedoms are restricted.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 12:21:20 UTC | #546249

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 15 by Stafford Gordon

I love these kind of events, I'm getting to love these individuals and would love to meet some of them.

One of our Daughters is at Trinity College Cambridge, so you never know, I might bump into Simon Blackburn at some time. In a pub would be ideal.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 12:30:58 UTC | #546254

scuddy's Avatar Comment 16 by scuddy

It's interesting to see philosophers and scientists interact. My empathy lies with the latter, on the basis that they do stuff. It's a bit like the interaction between business people and civil servants, business people operating and progressing in a world bounded by results, civil servants not quite understanding them and unable to see out of their own world and putting forth arguments mainly to do with keeping themselves relevant.

The philosophers don't like having their white tower questions dismissed, it's like taking a bone away from a dog, it's their currency and how they make their living.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 12:33:05 UTC | #546255

KRKBAB's Avatar Comment 17 by KRKBAB

Comment 7 by maria melo- ...and Sam Harris, some how seemed disturbing some how.

How so?- People who disagree with Sam seem to imagine an Orwellian society, but I think Sam addressed that aspect pretty well.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 13:08:21 UTC | #546268

KRKBAB's Avatar Comment 18 by KRKBAB

Comment 16 by scuddy- Right- and did you notice the speaker to the right (our right) of Krauss with his arms crossed as Krauss was talking to him?

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 13:10:30 UTC | #546269

Noble Savage's Avatar Comment 19 by Noble Savage

Comment 14 by jjonson099 :

I agree with Sam that science can determine moral values, but do we really want to live in a society where we have Sam's moral expert telling us what we should and shouldn't be doing? It can lead to a slippery slope. Sam's moral expert could be telling certain people- "You must not have children because it would be immoral for you to do so. You don’t have the right genes (or something)" or the moral expert could say “greater depths of happiness could be achieved if everyone stopped drinking alcohol". It could lead down to a slippery slope where we end up living in a society where our freedoms are restricted.

Sam has adressed this point MANY times. Scientists tell us the dangers of smoking. We know we shouldn't smoke. However you don't see men in white lab coats descending on smokers everywhere. It's a strawman argument.

Also, please think about what you are proposing. Do you really think that living in a society where people are denied alchohol and having children if their genes aren't of the "highest standard", would lead to human flourishing and a maximizing of well being? Do you think Sam believes this?I seriously get the impression that many people think Sam is mentally challenged. He's not. He's actually a pretty smart guy.

Freedom OBVIOUSLY is of the highest value if human beings are to flourish.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 13:32:15 UTC | #546279

MarkMyers's Avatar Comment 20 by MarkMyers

Comment 14 by jjonson099 :

I agree with Sam that science can determine moral values, but do we really want to live in a society where we have Sam's moral expert telling us what we should and shouldn't be doing? It can lead to a slippery slope. Sam's moral expert could be telling certain people- "You must not have children because it would be immoral for you to do so. You don’t have the right genes (or something)" or the moral expert could say “greater depths of happiness could be achieved if everyone stopped drinking alcohol". It could lead down to a slippery slope where we end up living in a society where our freedoms are restricted.

The slippery slope you describe sounds a lot like the one we already rode down. I think we might gain some traction on that slippery slope if we start using reason and science as our guide rather than archaic books and beleifs and the false promise that we accept current wrongs now because they will all be made better in the afterlife that does not exist.

If greater depths of happiness could be achieved if everyone stopped drinking alcohol, I might like to know it, and I might consider that when I am making my beverage selections just as I currrently consider the risks and benefits as best I know them.

Our freedoms are already restricted. I thought it a horrible imposition when seatbelts became a requirement, but I have been persuaded by evidence and artful messages like this one Beautiful and persuasive seatbelt suggestion

I can much better tolerate the kind of slippery slope that is guided and directed by reason.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 13:41:44 UTC | #546285

MarkMyers's Avatar Comment 21 by MarkMyers

Comment 20 by MarkMyers :

I can much better tolerate the kind of slippery slope that is guided and directed by reason.

Who knows where that kind of slippery slope might lead?

With a little thought, we may even be able to predict where it should lead and then we might know if it was leading in an unintended or undesireable direction and we might be able to make rational determinations about how to correct it.

So far, it would seem we have been following the paths of the most successful selfish memes, for most of our history. These have led to a polarized and divided global society.

Indeed secular trends in the last century or two may be best indication of how our future could look. State our values in something like a constitution, elect leaders to evaluate, enforce and tweek the law based on those values. Certainly imperfect so far, but what an improvement with room for lots more improvement.

Like Sam says, we have flown the evolutionary perch. Time to pick a direction and fly intentionally!

Almost all natural evolutionary paths lead to extinction.

We may need to start plotting our course to survive and thrive.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 14:05:00 UTC | #546297

darksmiles22's Avatar Comment 22 by darksmiles22

Comment 14 by jjonson099 :

I agree with Sam that science can determine moral values, but do we really want to live in a society where we have Sam's moral expert telling us what we should and shouldn't be doing? ... It could lead down to a slippery slope where we end up living in a society where our freedoms are restricted.

Just because an action might be harmful to human well-being doesn't mean outlawing it is beneficial. Prohibition of harmful drugs is the obvious example. Alcohol is the most dangerous drug, yet when the U.S. tried prohibition, that just made the problem worse.

Reliable evidence shows that even for narcotics, which are more dangerous on a per use basis, regulation and public rehabilitation programs are more effective at reducing the overall harmful effect on society than outlawing and punishing use.

On the other hand, why wouldn't we want moral experts informing lawmakers to the best of their ability and within appropriate limits about the consequences of various actions on human well-being? Surely that is how we decided to outlaw child labor and dangerous workplaces and toxic "food" and all the other modern advances to date. Only in the past moral expertise has been restricted to the squeakiest wheel instead of the best informed.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 14:17:41 UTC | #546307

some asshole's Avatar Comment 23 by some asshole

I automatically cringed when I saw the word "morality". I'm so utterly sick of idiots telling me I cannot be a moral person without the fear of god. It's so incredibly insulting!

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 14:21:45 UTC | #546308

MarkMyers's Avatar Comment 24 by MarkMyers

Comment 23 by   :

I automatically cringed when I saw the word "morality". I'm so utterly sick of idiots telling me I cannot be a moral person without the fear of god. It's so incredibly insulting!

Agreed, but that is exactly what was so refreshing - No idiots on that debate panel!

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 14:29:52 UTC | #546312

KRKBAB's Avatar Comment 25 by KRKBAB

Comment 23 by - How could your username be ?

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 15:06:29 UTC | #546336

secularjew's Avatar Comment 26 by secularjew

All the people putting forth the "slippery-slope" arguments and Orwellian scenarios need to realize that the answer to bad science is better science, not no science.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 16:11:34 UTC | #546364

Axeman33's Avatar Comment 27 by Axeman33

Comment 22 by darksmiles22 :

Comment 14 by jjonson099 :

I agree with Sam that science can determine moral values, but do we really want to live in a society where we have Sam's moral expert telling us what we should and shouldn't be doing? ... It could lead down to a slippery slope where we end up living in a society where our freedoms are restricted.

Just because an action might be harmful to human well-being doesn't mean outlawing it is beneficial. Prohibition of harmful drugs is the obvious example. Alcohol is the most dangerous drug, yet when the U.S. tried prohibition, that just made the problem worse.

Reliable evidence shows that even for narcotics, which are more dangerous on a per use basis, regulation and public rehabilitation programs are more effective at reducing the overall harmful effect on society than outlawing and punishing use. On the other hand, why wouldn't we want moral experts informing lawmakers to the best of their ability and within appropriate limits about the consequences of various actions on human well-being? Surely that is how we decided to outlaw child labor and dangerous workplaces and toxic "food" and all the other modern advances to date. Only in the past moral expertise has been restricted to the squeakiest wheel instead of the best informed.

The only reason prohibition was a problem was that it became extremely profitable for people to provide alcohol. The same could be said for the drug wars. Take away the (unmoral?) greed, (which would take away the source of all the alcohol and drugs), properly re-habilitate people, and who knows what effect that would have on society as a whole? The question is, would society be better off without drugs and/or alcohol? Initially, I would say no as they both have become very important parts of many lives. But, what would happen when generation after generation came into existence that has never known drugs and alcohol? Would they miss what they never knew of (except from history)? However, I've seen several movies about animals that gather around trees where they eat fermented fruit till they're drunk, so I believe it's in our nature to indulge in alcohol.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 16:43:11 UTC | #546379

Nardia's Avatar Comment 28 by Nardia

I think ultimately we all make our own minds up about what is right and wrong, science and philosophy can help us but they cannot make the decisions for us. I enjoy listening to Sam Harris but unless he can predict the future he is denying causality. The vomiting man may get run over by a bus on the way to the doctors. Being irrational is part of being Human and I for one would not like to live in a world where only rational judgements are made, now that would increase the amount of boredom in the universe.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 19:07:36 UTC | #546458

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 29 by Peter Grant

Has anyone managed to download these? I can't get them to stream properly using their site's flash thingy. I've also tried RTMP Dump but that doesn't seem to work either:

rtmp://ar.media.thesciencenetwork.org/cfx/st/The+Great+Debate+Part+2.mov rtmp://ar.media.thesciencenetwork.org/cfx/st/Sam+Harris+The+Great+Debate.mov rtmp://ar.media.thesciencenetwork.org/cfx/st/Patricia+Smith+Churchland+The+Great+Debate.mov rtmp://ar.media.thesciencenetwork.org/cfx/st/Peter+Singer+The+Great+Debate.mov rtmp://ar.media.thesciencenetwork.org/cfx/st/Lawrence+Krauss+The+Great+Debate.mov rtmp://ar.media.thesciencenetwork.org/cfx/st/Simon+Blackburn+The+Great+Debate.mov rtmp://ar.media.thesciencenetwork.org/cfx/st/Steven+Pinker+The+Great+Debate.mov

If someone could torrent these it would be greatly appreciated.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 19:38:58 UTC | #546476

maria melo's Avatar Comment 30 by maria melo

Perhaps it was too shortor such matter (question). It would perhaps betterto have more time to debate. Although it was interesting it seemed some how too indefinite. The idea was a very nice one but perhaps it needs to be continued because the question here is really too interesting.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 19:58:22 UTC | #546485