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is-ought fallacy

Meta Ethics: Toward a Universal Ethics — How Science & Reason Can Give Us Objective Moral Truths Without God

Ever since the Enlightenment philosopher David Hume outlined the “Is-Ought” problem—that we cannot derive an ought from an is, or we cannot determine the way something ought to be morally based on the way things are in nature (the classic example being slavery—because ants practice slavery that doesn’t make it natural and therefore acceptable for humans to practice slavery)—people have struggled to figure out on what basis should moral values be grounded. Of course, theists argue that God is that grounding, but what if you don’t believe in God? Is everything relative, including murder? In this article psychologist Gary Whittenberger offers an argument grounded in science and reason for determining objective moral truths.

Steven Pinker on Rationality: What it is, Why it Seems Scarce, Why it Matters

In episode 219, Michael Shermer speaks in person with Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker about his new book Rationality, about how today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding — and also appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that developed vaccines for COVID-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, medical quackery, and conspiracy theorizing?

eSkeptic for October 19, 2021

In episode 219, Michael Shermer speaks in person with Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker about his new book Rationality, about how today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding — and also appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that developed vaccines for COVID-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, medical quackery, and conspiracy theorizing?

Stuart Russell — Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control

How can we ensure AI never have power over us? Stuart Russell says we can rebuild AI on a new foundation in which machines are designed to be inherently uncertain about the human preferences they are required to satisfy. Such machines would be humble, altruistic, and committed to pursue our objectives, not theirs. This new foundation would allow us to create machines that are provably deferential and provably beneficial.

eSkeptic for June 2, 2020

In Science Salon # 118 Michael Shermer speaks with distinguished artificial intelligence researcher Stuart Russell about this new book Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control. PLUS social psychologist Carol Tavris discusses two new books whose authors separate what’s right in the pursuit of justice from what’s self-righteous.

eSkeptic for October 29, 2019

In Science Salon # 89 Michael Shermer speaks with Richard Dawkins about his new book Outgrowing God. Dawkins explains how the natural world arose without a designer and challenges head-on some of the most basic assumptions made by the world’s religions. PLUS: Is the statement “We are living in a post-truth world” true? If your answer is “yes” then the answer is “no” because you’ve just evaluated the statement in an evidentiary manner, so evidence still matters and facts still matter. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker explains why were are not living in a post-truth world in this deeply insightful cover story from Skeptic magazine 24.3 (2019).

Richard Dawkins — Outgrowing God: A Beginner’s Guide

Richard Dawkins explains how the natural world arose without a designer — the improbability and beauty of the “bottom-up programming” that engineers an embryo or a flock of starlings — and challenges head-on some of the most basic assumptions made by the world’s religions.

eSkeptic for September 10, 2019

In Science Salon # 82, Michael Shermer speaks with Phil Zuckerman about his book that launches today — What it Means to be Moral: Why Religion is Not Necessary for Living an Ethical Life. PLUS, the latest issue of Skeptic magazine (24.3) launches today in print and digital editions.

Phil Zuckerman — What it Means to be Moral: Why Religion is Not Necessary for Living an Ethical Life

By deconstructing religious arguments for God-based morality and guiding readers through the premises and promises of secular morality, Zuckerman argues that the major challenges facing the world today―from climate change and growing inequality to religious support for unethical political policies to gun violence and terrorism―are best approached from a nonreligious ethical framework.

eSkeptic for July 19, 2017

In this week’s eSkeptic, we present Michael Shermer’s article, “Scientific Naturalism: A Manifesto for Enlightenment Humanism,” from Theology and Science, 1 June, 2017.

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