The science of right and wrong
Posted on April 28, 2011
Biologist H. Allen Orr reviews Sam Harris’ The Moral Landscape in The New York Review of Books.
Once upon a time popular science was the attempt to explain the achievements of scientists to a broad audience. This was a noble endeavor that performed a useful function. How else was the public to learn what physicists, chemists, or biologists had accomplished? Recently, however, a new genre of popular science has appeared, one that shifts the tense from past to future. These new books focus on the great things that science will achieve, and allegedly soon. Thus, before the human genome was sequenced, we were treated to talk about how the project was destined to change our view of humanity. (One hears considerably less about this now, after the fact.) The latest entry in this new genre of popular science is Sam Harris’s The Moral Landscape.