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Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape) 
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Post Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape)
Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape)



Thu Dec 09, 2010 10:09 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape)
The main agenda in The Moral Landscape is the political weakness of science as a moral force. Harris zeroes in on what to some may seem an obscure point of logic, the fact-value distinction, as the philosophical source of this weakness. For traditional positive science, scientific work is about providing accurate descriptions of reality. The enlightenment philosopher David Hume, who remains a main inspiration for Anglo-American analytical philosophy, observed that logically, a description of reality cannot directly imply an argument about how we should respond to that description, that an ‘is’ never implies an ‘ought’. Our response to situations, our sense of what we ought to do, Hume says does not come just from the evidence, but from our inner values, the norms of conduct that inform our moral sentiments. Moral norms, the basis of normative ethics, are thereby seen as having a distinct source from descriptive observations.

Harris brilliantly observes that this logical argument by Hume has devolved into the modern myth that science has no right to comment on morality. He argues that the categorical distinction drawn between fact and value as respectively descriptive and normative is logically invalid. Followers of Hume such as the empiricist philosophers Bertrand Russell, George Moore and Karl Popper have been wildly influential in getting scientists to see their work as purely descriptive and never normative. Harris points out against this tradition that relation to reality is the only thing that can make morality sound, so values should be based on facts.

How simple is this argument? My view is that Harris has an important and valid moral argument that values should be based on facts, but his logical presentation has some gaps. His main theme is that well-being is good, and that maximising well-being should be the aim of morality. This term well-being means roughly the same as flourishing. The trouble I have with this argument is that Harris wants to say it is a fact that well-being is good, like it is a fact that atmospheric CO2 concentration is increasing. This is the type of argument that Hume calls a category mistake, because all our moral sentiments are just expressions of value, not fact.

To deal with Hume’s logic, and especially with its degraded social impact in the idea that science has no contact with morality, we can either accept or reject it. Harris takes the rejection path, arguing valiantly that Hume commits a logical error. Harris feels it is so obvious that abundant happiness is better than abundant misery that the value we place on well-being amounts to a fact, something only a psychopath could dispute.

The trouble is that even this persuasive argument does not dispense with Hume’s logic regarding the source of moral sentiments. Like in geometry, we still need some moral axioms, fundamental assumptions that themselves are not based on observation. The claim that flourishing is good is the prime example of such a moral axiom. Harris owes an unconscious debt to the empiricist tradition in his effort to deny the fact-value tradition with his argument that some values are so important that they are facts. His resistance to the argument that morality can have a source other than observation is based on the distinguished view that anything not based on observation is metaphysical, and therefore suspect. Harris seems to find repugnant the idea that his cherishing of well-being could be a statement of metaphysics, because a deep sentiment within modern science is that metaphysics is intrinsically wrong.

This gets back to the nub of the problem: by rejecting metaphysics, science is nihilistic. Values requires axioms, and axioms are not derivable from observation. By accepting a source for ideas other than pure description, philosophy enters the metaphysical terrain that Kant called the synthetic a priori, or necessary truth. Anglo-American tradition has associated this continental idealist theory with totalitarianism, and has preferred to erect the logical barrier between facts and values, seen in extreme form in Gould’s crazy ‘separate magisteria’ argument. The problem is that the opposition to necessary truth is not sustainable, as values are needed to live by. To say ‘our only value is accurate description’ just does not cut it as a political reality; science has to show how accurate description provides the basis of an ethical philosophy.



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Post Re: Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape)
It seems that in place of an axiom for moral truth, Harris has the facts of neuroscience, which mean that within certain limits, we know which brain states are congruent with human flourishing. As conscious creatures, we have more desirable brain states under some conditions vs. others, so we should maximize the optimal conditions.

For Harris, this physical understanding means that philosophy is voided. He's not alone among contemporary thinkers in believing this.

Harris also identifies science itself as value-based, in the sense that attending to empirical data isn't a necessity, but a choice.

Harris doesn't make political statements, but it seems that his view of morality as confined to what is good for individual brains leads to libertarianism.


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Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:53 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape)
DWill wrote:
It seems that in place of an axiom for moral truth, Harris has the facts of neuroscience, which mean that within certain limits, we know which brain states are congruent with human flourishing. As conscious creatures, we have more desirable brain states under some conditions vs. others, so we should maximize the optimal conditions. For Harris, this physical understanding means that philosophy is voided. He's not alone among contemporary thinkers in believing this. Harris also identifies science itself as value-based, in the sense that attending to empirical data isn't a necessity, but a choice. Harris doesn't make political statements, but it seems that his view of morality as confined to what is good for individual brains leads to libertarianism.


The problem is the epistemic status of the statement 'flourishing is good'. Harris argues it is a fact, while mainstream science says it is an expression of sentiment, and cannot be called a fact because it is not an objective description of something real. Kant was alive to this problem of the seemingly absurd consequences of rigorous logic. Hume had argued on similar lines that we do not know if the sun will rise tomorrow, or if there is a necessary connection between cause and effect, or if our moral sentiments are objective. Kant held that to express certainty about these type of questions requires what he called the transcendental imagination, seeing causation, time and space as necessary truths. He recognised that this necessity is logical rather than empirical, so did not try to broaden the domain of the factual in the way that Harris does.

If we say a claim if factual, we implicitly say it is absolutely and objectively true. By definition a fact cannot be partly true because then it is no longer a fact. Analytically, we can say all facts are objectively and absolutely true. Can we say that about the statement 'human flourishing is good'? While we may want to say yes, there is the nagging issue that it is true for us, but 'it suits us to believe it' is not the same as 'it is objectively true'.



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Post Re: Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape)
Thanks, Robert. Maybe we can sort out what it is Harris is trying to do. Is he trying to say that the only reality we can possibly talk about is that governed by our brains, so that if we want to speak practically (as Harris seems very interested in doing), we have all the moral guidance we need in knowing roughly which brain states are equivalent to flourishing? That flourishing is subjective seems not to be an obstacle for us given how we're set up. Again I think SH simply doesn't care about whether philosophers think his ideas measure up. Given SH's primarily social concerns, he's only looking for utility. There isn't any need for iron-clad philosophy. Besides utilitarianism, I don't see a philosophical orientation in Harris.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape)
Robert Tulip wrote:
The problem is the epistemic status of the statement 'flourishing is good'. Harris argues it is a fact, while mainstream science says it is an expression of sentiment, and cannot be called a fact because it is not an objective description of something real. ...


In case you didn't read it, check out footnote 21 on p. 203. I don't think Harris is arguing this statement is a fact, but instead a (very) reasonable assumption. I think he makes a good argument here.

For me, a more difficult problem is that a definition of well-being is necessarily fuzzy. He acknowledges this, but I think he overestimates the potential for progress on objective answers to "hard cases" as opposed to easy ones, like say honor killings.



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Post Re: Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape)
Dexter wrote:
check out footnote 21 on p. 203. I don't think Harris is arguing this statement is a fact, but instead a (very) reasonable assumption. I think he makes a good argument here.

For me, a more difficult problem is that a definition of well-being is necessarily fuzzy. He acknowledges this, but I think he overestimates the potential for progress on objective answers to "hard cases" as opposed to easy ones, like say honor killings.


Thanks Dexter, I have now read the book to the end of the main text, but have not yet read the additional feast of discussion in the 43 pages of notes. This note that you mention continues the problem DWill raised of how Harris sees his motive as more practical than theoretical. The trouble is, Harris argues there is a rigorous basis to ground values in facts and that in morality sound practical advice should be based on coherent theoretical foundations.

Harris says "no framework of knowledge can withstand utter skepticism, for none is perfectly self-justifying." (p204) But his whole book is all about providing a framework of knowledge that withstands skepticism by the self-justifying argument that flourishing is good. I just think there is an element of cultural confusion in the argument of The Moral Landscape, with some unexamined elements of logical positivismretained that are worth making explicit. Harris would do well to allow his inner Kant to flourish more, expanding on the nod towards the categorical imperative on page 81 by exploring the need for self-justifying arguments. For example Kant says space and time are real because they are the necessary conditions of experience. Harris easily withstands those who might be skeptical about such obvious universal truths by calling them imbeciles (p204), hinting at the need for universal axioms.

I am sympathetic to Harris's call to collapse the fact-value distinction (p14), and indeed this was a main theme of my MA thesis, on ethics and ontology in Heidegger. Where I think that Heidegger and the Kantian tradition provide a better method than what Harris presents is in their recognition that basing values on facts does not diminish the autonomy of the moral sphere. When Harris says (p14) "the divide between facts and values is illusory", I still feel he is relying more on rhetoric than logic.



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Post Re: Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape)
Robert, you are probably more knowledgeable about philosophy than I am, and I'm not specifically addressing this to your points (as I'm not sure I completely understand your objections), but I think it's helpful to rephrase a statement such as:

-You should do X

where X could be an individual action, or passing a law, etc. in which you can see why some people might be thinking, 'on what possible scientific basis could you say that?' And I think that's where a lot of the moral relativism is coming from. Instead state it, as Harris is doing,

-If you want to maximize human flourishing (or minimize suffering), then you should do X

Which brings up the difficulty of defining those terms in a specific case, but I think it makes the assumption explicit and the logic easier to accept. To use the terminology that I am more familiar with, in this way we've turned a normative statement into a positive statement, at least in principle.



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Post Re: Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape)
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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Fri Dec 31, 2010 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape)
Dexter wrote:
-If you want to maximize human flourishing, then you should do X - in this way we've turned a normative statement into a positive statement, at least in principle.


Yes, the above central argument is Harris's main critique of the fact-value dichotomy. I'm simply focusing on what you term "turned into", and asking in what does this "turning into in principle" from morals to facts consist. I agree this material is difficult, and it dredges up a lot of complex cultural agendas, so it is well worth clarifying.

Positive statements are factual descriptions of reality. Normative statements are moral arguments. The logical positivism that originated in the Vienna Circle of Carnap and Schlick in the 1930s held this distinction to be at the foundation of rigorous thought. Logical positivism came to dominate Western philosophy in the 1950s, especially through the work of Karl Popper, and remains the substructure of the mainstream scientific worldview that Harris is contesting. Logical positivism was based on the very worthy view that evidence is the highest value, that if a statement coheres with all evidence, it can be accepted as true. By contrast, non-evidentiary statements, ie moral arguments, have a lower epistemic status. Already this view contains the incoherence that facts are the highest values.

To understand the social and political implications of this worldview, per Harris, we have to understand the reasons why it was advanced. My view is that a big part of this rationale can be found in Popper's book The Poverty of Historicism, and Leo Strauss's related view that pluralism is a higher value than truth. Popper held that the original error in philosophy was committed by Plato, with his claim that ideas of the good, the true and the beautiful have an objective reality. Popper's philosophy was seared by the abuse of Plato by the Nazis, with their claim that absolute moral values reflected a racial hierarchy. 'Historicism' is defined by Popper as 'an approach to the social sciences which assumes that historical prediction is their primary aim', something he sees as the seed of totalitarianism, and in conflict with open liberalism.

Now Harris is reviewing the legacy of Popper's emphasis on the open society. If Popperian science leads to a moral relativism, with the view that science cannot comment on morality, then openness leaves people's heads so open that their brains fall out. Harris argues that scientific evidence carries moral implications. I fully agree with his conclusions, but wish to more carefully analyse the path he suggests to get there. Terms such as fact and value carry a mythic aura, a set of cultural associations that are hard to disentangle. I'm simply suggesting that Harris invalidly jumps from the claim that values should be based on facts to the conclusion that values are facts. Against this mode of thinking, Kant held there are two sources of philosophy, the starry heavens above and the moral law within. Kant did not try to say we should not distinguish between observation and recommendation, but this is the implication of Harris's actual argument.



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Post Re: Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape)
A somewhat different thought on the first chapter:

It's too early to judge, but the analysis seems possibly too reductionist to me -- relating everything to brain states. As I'm sure Harris agrees, just because you can reduce everything to the lowest level -- movements of atoms, for example, -- doesn't mean that would provide the best or most useful explanation of something. For example, if you could reduce biological phenomena to the level of physics.

If a drug can produce brain states corresponding to all of the human flourishing and well-being that we might value, should we just sit on the couch and take it? Should we plug into the Matrix? The philosopher Robert Nozick made an argument along these lines with his "experience machine." If not, we must value something other than brain states, but the way Harris talks about neuroscience so far it sounds like that is how he thinks science will be able to say something objective, particularly about the more difficult moral questions. I suspect Harris will address this in some way later, and he has already hinted that he is not arguing for a narrow form of utilitarianism.



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Post Re: Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape)
I'm thinking that Harris performs a valuable service for us by claiming ground that has previously belonged to the religious right. By "us," I mean the category of non-theists, whatever it is we call ourselves; perhaps atheist will have to do. From my observation, atheists end the discussion of morality once they've asserted that God or a holy book isn't necessary for us to be good people. After this point, though, they don't have much to add, usually stating, though, that science has no contribution to make. Leaving the field like this only empowers the prescriptive theists. Harris in contrast puts morality at the top of the agenda, stating that without a reorientation of our values, none of the big things we'd like to accomplish are possible.

He does a thorough job of defending his claims against almost any possible objection. He stomps hard on relativism, showing that it's valid to declare that some social practices are wrong, and not just wrong from our particular moral frame. If facts can be known about values, because the facts concern states of human consciousness, it is possible to evaluate conditions of the world (i.e, our culture) that impact these same states. Although there will be a range of values that are conducive to well-being, there are also clearly those that aren't doing that job at all. So Harris is also prescriptive, but his reason for being so is completely different from that of most religious moralists. Well-being is his bedrock; if some religious morals are evaluated on this basis, they'll fail. He answers the objection that well-being is too vague by comparing it to a subcategory of well-being, health. We don't mind that health is vague and without a known upper limit. In the same way, well-being can't be precisely defined and has no known upper limit. It's almost a virtue that well-being is hard to define, because we do need to fit into it some values that might be strange to us. I saw a reality show called "Sister Wives," about a polygamist family in Utah. I had a strong negative reaction to what I saw, but could it be that that bizarre social arrangement could also provide all members with well-being? Harris would say about this that facts can be determined, facts that can tell us whether it is harmful to well-being or not.

I wasn't sure what Harris meant by "science" in his subtitle. He explains that he means a whole range of things, from reason unaided by research to experimental data and measurement. That reassures me somewhat, because I wonder what the role of "hard" science can be in actually determining morals. I'd probably still like to insert the weasel-word "help" in the subtitle. I also get slightly uneasy about strange uses of science such as the "practice babies" project carried out in the 50s and 60s (on NPR today). The main point seems to be that well-being supplies an objective basis for determining values. Harris has a counter to the objection that this can't be so due to the subjectivity of well-being.

So far, I don't find him to be using reductionism in regard to states of the brain. Brain states are things about which facts can be known, which allows us to say that values can be based on facts relating to consciousness. The differences between those brain states are very significant, so there is never a sense in which he says a generic electro-chemical state of the brain is of any significance. But I suppose he is still open to an objection such as Dexter raised regarding artificially-induced brain states. Could those be improved without bothering about changing the conditions of the world?


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Post Re: Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape)
Harris's idea of well-being as the key to ethics goes back to Aristotle's notion of entelechy.
Quote:
Entelechy is considered to be an inherent regulating and directing force in the development and functioning of an organism, the actualization of form-giving cause...For Aristotle entelechy was effectively the "end within" -- the potential of living things to become themselves, e.g., what a seed has that makes it become a plant. ... actualization of their inbuilt spiritual code, entelechy or deep structure." http://www.laetusinpraesens.org/docs/pr ... esent3.php


Well-being, also understood as flourishing, involves understanding the rational evidence that indicates what something must do to achieve its full potential. Believing lies or errors holds us back from achieving our potential, so is inherently immoral. Knowing the truth is the basis for the highest morality, providing a path to transformative ethical action.

Climate science is one field in which this idea of basing values on facts provides a compelling basis for an authentic morality. If we ignore evidence about global warming, we effectively say it is okay by us if humanity goes extinct. Against this attitude of making up whatever we want to believe, Harris calls for a focus on evidence as the source of wellbeing. The path to flourishing is objective, in Aristotle's sense of entelechy it is finding the inherent inner purpose that will enable achievement of potential. Although as Harris notes there can be uncertainty about the best path, we often have certainty about the suboptimal paths, for example that happiness is better than misery, or in climate science that harmony with nature is better than falsely imagining we can ignore nature.

This framework of evidentiary morality provides a basis to rehabilitate some Biblical ideas. Especially, themes such as love and forgiveness indicate a need for rational critique of instinctive moral reactions such as revenge and blind loyalty. The study of the Bible has been corrupted by blind doctrine, so much that many people cannot imagine it contains an evidentiary vision, but we can actually take parables like the wheat and tares as a basis for a coherent scientific ethic.



Last edited by Robert Tulip on Fri Jan 07, 2011 1:22 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape)
The only part I could disagree with, Robert, is that the most compelling reason to act to mitigate climate change is to avoid human extinction. I think we're likely to survive long, long after we've committed larger crimes against the world and its species. Our adaptability is our biggest asset, but also in a way our liability because we can live with and even think we're happy with what little of the natural world we might have left. It goes without saying that human suffering will indeed increase hugely if we sit on our hands.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: Moral Truth (The Moral Landscape)
DWill wrote:
The only part I could disagree with, Robert, is that the most compelling reason to act to mitigate climate change is to avoid human extinction.

The implications of global warming are the big reason why the relation between facts and values as presented by Harris is the most urgent question in morality.

Basing our values on facts is the only reliable way to make the world a better place, and address the large scale global threats we face.

James Hansen, head of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, is an expert on Venus. His study of the atmosphere of Venus led him to observe that if humans successfully move enough carbon from the crust of earth into the atmosphere to burn all oil, coal and shale oil, we will create a runaway Venus syndrome, putting planetary temperature above the boiling point of water. A runaway greenhouse effect would make earth uninhabitable, causing human extinction. This is possible. It is not a joke, and it is not a secondary problem. It is the primary fact of our time.

Despite this factual observation, the pace of CO2 emissions is increasing, not decreasing. People do not base their values on the facts of observation of our planet, but on imaginary ideas and dumb instincts. This is the ground of Harris's observation that fundamentalism in religion is an emergency problem, because of its scale and danger, and its evil capacity to distract people from real ethical problems such as climate change in favor of supernatural beliefs such as the Christ myth.

Yet Harris is wrong in his wish to throw the baby out with the bathwater by abolishing religion, the goal he hints at. He fails to see the rational meaning behind the stupid veneer of faith. The gospels have immense power to transform human life for the better through a vision of love. If we read the gospels through an atheist lens, we can still glean superb ethical content, including a counter-cultural recognition that the mentality of blind faith should be condemned in favor of analytical reason.



Last edited by Robert Tulip on Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:13 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Frankenstein - by Mary ShelleyThe Big Questions - by Simon BlackburnScience Was Born of Christianity - by Stacy TrasancosThe Happiness Hypothesis - by Jonathan HaidtA Game of Thrones - by George R. R. MartinTempesta's Dream - by Vincent LoCocoWhy Nations Fail - by Daron Acemoglu and James RobinsonThe Drowning Girl - Caitlin R. KiernanThe Consolations of the Forest - by Sylvain TessonThe Complete Heretic's Guide to Western Religion: The Mormons - by David FitzgeraldA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - by James JoyceThe Divine Comedy - by Dante AlighieriThe Magic of Reality - by Richard DawkinsDubliners - by James JoyceMy Name Is Red - by Orhan PamukThe World Until Yesterday - by Jared DiamondThe Man Who Was Thursday - by by G. K. ChestertonThe Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven PinkerLord Jim by Joseph ConradThe Hobbit by J. R. R. TolkienThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsAtlas Shrugged by Ayn RandThinking, Fast and Slow - by Daniel KahnemanThe Righteous Mind - by Jonathan HaidtWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max BrooksMoby Dick: or, the Whale by Herman MelvilleA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer EganLost Memory of Skin: A Novel by Russell BanksThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. KuhnHobbes: Leviathan by Thomas HobbesThe House of the Spirits - by Isabel AllendeArguably: Essays by Christopher HitchensThe Falls: A Novel (P.S.) by Joyce Carol OatesChrist in Egypt by D.M. MurdockThe Glass Bead Game: A Novel by Hermann HesseA Devil's Chaplain by Richard DawkinsThe Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph CampbellThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainThe Moral Landscape by Sam HarrisThe Decameron by Giovanni BoccaccioThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Grand Design by Stephen HawkingThe Evolution of God by Robert WrightThe Tin Drum by Gunter GrassGood Omens by Neil GaimanPredictably Irrational by Dan ArielyThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki MurakamiALONE: Orphaned on the Ocean by Richard Logan & Tere Duperrault FassbenderDon Quixote by Miguel De CervantesMusicophilia by Oliver SacksDiary of a Madman and Other Stories by Nikolai GogolThe Passion of the Western Mind by Richard TarnasThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Genius of the Beast by Howard BloomAlice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Empire of Illusion by Chris HedgesThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner The Extended Phenotype by Richard DawkinsSmoke and Mirrors by Neil GaimanThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsWhen Good Thinking Goes Bad by Todd C. RinioloHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiAmerican Gods: A Novel by Neil GaimanPrimates and Philosophers by Frans de WaalThe Enormous Room by E.E. CummingsThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGod Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher HitchensThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama Paradise Lost by John Milton Bad Money by Kevin PhillipsThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettGodless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan BarkerThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Limits of Power by Andrew BacevichLolita by Vladimir NabokovOrlando by Virginia Woolf On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton50 reasons people give for believing in a god by Guy P. HarrisonWalden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David ThoreauExile and the Kingdom by Albert CamusOur Inner Ape by Frans de WaalYour Inner Fish by Neil ShubinNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyTen Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Stevenson & David HabermanHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Stuff of Thought by Stephen PinkerA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Lucifer Effect by Philip ZimbardoResponsibility and Judgment by Hannah ArendtInterventions by Noam ChomskyGodless in America by George A. RickerReligious Expression and the American Constitution by Franklyn S. HaimanDeep Economy by Phil McKibbenThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe Third Chimpanzee by Jared DiamondThe Woman in the Dunes by Abe KoboEvolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. ScottThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanI, Claudius by Robert GravesBreaking The Spell by Daniel C. DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

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