If you read the two articles by Stenger and Pigliucci, it looks like Sam Harris is quietly trying to furiously backpedal. Stenger writes:
Pigliucci severely misrepresents the views expressed by Harris in his 2010 book, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values (2012), presenting them as examples of the New Atheism’s scientism….. Nowhere does Harris’s book claim that moral questions should be settled exclusively by science. Rather he argues that science should be allowed a place at the table, where it has been previously excluded. In an email message to me, Harris explained (2014):
The Moral Landscape wasn’t a claim that current science, narrowly defined, can answer all our moral questions. It was an argument against moral relativism—the idea that questions of right and wrong have no answers, or that such answers are merely made up, culturally constructed, etc. More generally, the new atheists are not arguing that science covers all of human knowledge. We are saying that in every domain of knowledge there is an important distinction between having good reasons for what one believes and having bad ones. Religion consistently falls on the wrong side of that divide. In fact, it even has a doctrine that appears to justify staying on the wrong side (faith).
Pigliucci’s reply is below the fold. Word of warning – the tag-team of Stenger/Harris gets body slammed, so Gnu atheists might want to look away.
“Stenger accuses me of misrepresenting Harris’ position, and cites a personal email he got from the latter to the effect that he never intended to say that science can settle moral questions, he only wanted science to be granted “a place at the table.” It is hard to square this modest aspiration both with the reality on the ground (science does have a place at the table) and with what Harris actually writes in The Moral Landscape, the wholly unsubtle subtitle of which is “How Science Can Determine Human Values” (my emphasis). I will not rehash my analysis of Harris here, since that material is widely available, but it is entirely disingenuous of Harris to write the sort of thing he wrote to Stenger, and rather naive of Stenger to take the former at face value.”