Can Science Give Us Answers To Moral Questions – Moral Maze

Jun 05, 2011 Comments Off by

On this week’s Moral Maze on BBC Radio 4 the discussion turns to whether science can provide answers to moral questions.

The more astute readers (as this is an atheist site, that should probably be just, readers) will notice that there’s a problem with the above sentence. The definitions don’t work properly to make that sentence make sense. The question of whether science can answer moral questions is the sort of question that somebody with little understanding of either science, or morality, will ask; it fundamentally misunderstands both concepts.

The discussion on the radio program seems to be fuelled entirely by people who fail to notice that there’s a problem with the question. Speakers would jump from point to point with each statement having little or no relevance to the last. Definitions went out the window and speakers seemed more concerned with either showing off their own opinions or trying to look intellectual.

So what are the questions that should have been addressed in this waste of three-quarters of an hour?

By what method is science being used to answer moral questions. What science can do is to produce a set of statistics for people’s moral values, such as most people thinking murder is wrong. But what happens from there? Is it a popular vote, where if a large number of people think it then it must be true? Does the science continue to look into evolutionary reasons why people might think that way, and then find out which keeps society going for the longest, or which keeps people happiest? The panel seemed to completely overlook the logistics of doing something like this, instead focusing on a child’s view of the question.


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I am the founder of Atheism Network.
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