Angela Jenningss

2 minute read

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=131099083

Dr. HARRIS: I think well, first of all, there is an amazing diversity of opinion of just how we should cash out our talk of right and wrong, and good and evil. And it’s quite remarkable how difficult it can be to get people to concede that human flourishing, and the flourishing of conscious creatures, generally is what we should what should concern us.

But the moment you admit that much, the moment you admit that a real conversation about morality relates to human well-being - to take our case specifically - then most of moral talk that defines our public policy immediately begins to fall by the wayside.

I mean, the Catholic Church is more concerned about preventing contraception than about preventing the rape of children. It’s more concerned about preventing gay marriage than genocide.

Now these this is if you’re concerned about human flourishing, this is clearly an inversion of priorities, to put it most charitably, and so the framework being offered here is not an alternate moral framework we have to take seriously.

This is a framework we can ignore in the same way we could ignore the Catholic Church if they were talking about physics and saying things like, well, we’re interested in the physics of the transubstantiation - or the physics that allows the Holy Ghost to be here and there and everywhere at once.

There’s not a physicist alive who would be forced to take those utterances seriously, and yet when we talk about morality, it seems that everyone’s opinion has to count equally. But everyone’s opinion is not actually constrained at this moment by an intelligent, or even intelligible, concern for human flourishing. And I think the moment we grant that human flourishing is the point, our moral discourse would change remarkably.