Culture Evolution Intelligent Design Mind Philosophy Science

Sam Harris vs. Jordan Peterson on whether an “objective” moral code is possible

Spread the love

We’ve written some things about Jordan Peterson and a fair bit about Sam Harris: Here’s an appraisal of their recent debate in Vancouver, moderated by Bret Weinstein :

Sam Harris 2016 (cropped).jpg
Sam Harris/ Christopher Michel (Creative Commons)

Peterson and Harris spent a large part of the first night discussing what they had in common. For example, both agreed that it was important to establish an objective moral code to live by in the world. The notion of moral relativism was disavowed by both intellectuals, for mostly the same reasons. Furthermore, both agreed that not all religions were equal in their moral claims. However, here Peterson’s focus was positive; he claimed some religions were only conscious of pieces of absolute truth, while other religions, such as Christianity and perhaps Judaism, had articulated this truth with much more sophistication.

By contrast, Harris’ focus was on the negative end; he claimed some religions such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam had perpetuated much more oppression and violence in the world, historically and contemporarily. This was done by enforcing their dogmatic claims unlike other religions, such as Buddhism–though he admits Buddhism has initiated violence to some degree as well.

Peterson Lecture (33522701146).png
Jordan Peterson

Here is where the central point of disagreement arose: Harris was concerned that Peterson was cherry-picking the positive results of religion while making excuses or downplaying the atrocities it was responsible for. Furthermore, he believes the positive aspects could be attained outside religion and thus the whole institution of religion is unnecessary. On the other hand, Peterson was highly suspicious of Sam’s confidence that an objective moral code could be established without recourse to an a priori hierarchy of values, one which would presumably lie outside our scientific analysis of the physical world.Jordan Mamano, “A Recap of the Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris Debate in Vancouver” at The Post Millennial

Note: PC Hell is definitely the place to be now. On the other hand, you could be watching the pussyhats March for Science. Wait, this washed through recently: “Women’s March ditching ‘pussyhats’ because they exclude trans women: Report” Hey, here’s another debate topic: Will progressivism die from its own stupidification, without killing so many others this time out?

See also: Sam Harris on taboo topics, Jordan Peterson, and getting sent to PC hell

Jordan Peterson on how post-modernism kills science: by destroying categories

and

Bret Weinstein on Jordan Peterson v Sam Harris

Leave a Reply