Can Science Tell Us Right From Wrong?

This was the title of ACM news article today. My first impression is to suggest a definitive NO to the question above. A simplistic argument would be because Science deals with matter while Ethics are out the scope of scientific investigation. ethics relates to spiritual and intuition experience while science relates to logical and rational experience. It’s a matter of Rational vs Intuitive (spiritual) ; two aspects that is really hard to connect. when for example, Max Plank was asked what science could contribute to resolving conflicts of values , his response was simple: ” Science is not qualified to speak to this question”
This question will be a subject of important debate soon. and i’m quoting the whole story below ( credit to acm.org).

Can Science Tell Us Right From Wrong?
Arizona State University

November 3, 2010

If human morality is an evolutionary adaptation and if neuroscientists can identify specific brain circuitry governing moral judgment, can scientists determine what is, in fact, right and wrong? A distinguished panel of scientists, philosophers and public intellectuals will explore this and other questions as part of a public discussion on the origins of morality at Arizona State University.

“The Great Debate: Can Science Tell Us Right From Wrong?” will take place Saturday (Nov. 6) at ASU Gammage in Tempe, AZ.

“Perhaps no topic at the interface of philosophy, biology and psychology currently evokes more interest than the question of whether morality has any external meaning beyond that determined by our evolutionary development,” notes Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist and director of the ASU Origins Project. “At the same time, for the public, morality is at the heart of much of what we think about and act upon.”

Joining Krauss on stage to debate the subject will be bioethicist Peter Singer, psychologist Steven Pinker, author Sam Harris, philosopher Patricia Churchland and philosopher Simon Blackburn. They represent some of today’s leading minds exploring the boundaries between science and morality.

The debate will include a moderated discussion as well as a question and answer session, during which audience members will have an opportunity to submit questions. A book signing will follow the discussion.

“To have a debate that cuts directly at the heart of this issue by some of the most eloquent and thoughtful individuals on the planet should be fascinating,” says Krauss. “It should be a lot of fun. I cannot wait to see what transpires.”

The “debaters” on stage will include:

(stage debaters list was removed for shorteness)

“The Great Debate” is sponsored by the ASU Origins Project in collaboration with the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Center for Law, Science and Innovation; the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge; and the Science Network.

Krauss cites Jean-Jacques Rousseau to explain why the ASU Origins Project is sponsoring this discussion. “Rousseau said ‘We are born free, but live forever in chains.’ Is that true? Is our morality imposed by our social circumstances or is it innate?”

As an organization focused on getting people to explore their place in the cosmos, Krauss notes that the ASU Origins Project is naturally drawn to asking questions about the nature of morality. “These are precisely the kind of questions we need to be asking,” he says. “And, these are the kind of questions that form the heart of the intellectual journey that the Origins Project hopes to offer to students, faculty and the public.”

“The Great Debate” is connected to a workshop at Arizona State University on the origins of morality. Co-sponsor, James Weinstein, professor of constitutional law at ASU, explains that the workshop will “consider the implications, if any, that evolutionary psychology and neuroscience have for normative ethics or meta-ethics.”

Advertisements