Can science answer questions of ethics and morality?

I’ve just watched this TED talk by Sam Harris who argues that science can answer questions about what constitutes the good life. It’s a persuasive argument and one that I would have been very predisposed to as an undergraduate but I’m reminded of Wittgenstein’s warning against scientism:

Philosophers constantly see the method of science before their eyes, and are irresistibly tempted to ask and answer questions in the way science does. (Wittgenstein, L. 1969. The Blue and Brown Books. Oxford: Blackwell. p18)

The problem I think is not that science can’t be a reasonable underpinning to how we make sense of our life (and I think it provides a much firmer foundation than religion for instance) but rather, we need to be on guard against forgetting to continually ask these questions. If we think that science can answer everything we risk falling into a dogmatic slumber where we forget the importance of reflecting on these questions in the first place. And that itself is part of what enables the good life.

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