I can’t say I am an aficionado of neuroscience yet, but with an intent of moving slowly towards becoming one, I picked up a book by Sam Harris – “The Moral Landscape”, which I just finished reading. It is quite an easy read, although I took some time to finish it due to my laziness. In essence, here is the point of the book: what we consider as moral values are based on certain facts, and we all agree that anything of value or moral concern has a lot to do with human well-being. If we agree to this, then we have to agree to the fact that there are right and wrong answers to how we maximize the overall human well-being. He argues, quite convincingly, that, in principle, science can tell us how to achieve maximum human well-being in a given situation.
Sam Harris presents his case very lucidly and I am sympathetic to many of his arguments. He also presents lots of notes and references which covers one third of the book – it is not surprising, since this is based on his Ph.D thesis. It is, perhaps, worth pointing here that he does not tell us how exactly science can answer questions of moral right vs wrong. There is no such prescription yet, obviously. However, religion cannot be a recourse in this matter, which he emphasizes repeatedly, because it is subjective experience.
Overall it is very interesting read with lots of examples, arguments and counter-arguments on this important issue.