Conversational Atheist has listed at his website 9 facts that Sam Harris has provided to go from is to ought. Unfortunately, I found myself stumbling on his very first fact:
FACT #1: There are behaviors, intentions, cultural practices, etc. which potentially lead to the worst possible misery for everyone. There are also behaviors, intentions, cultural practices, etc. which do not, and which, in fact, lead to states of wellbeing for many sentient creatures, to the degree that wellbeing is possible in this universe.
In fact, I found myself tripping up at the very first sentence. For some people, misery is found in their own existence and the existence of others. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the infamous killers in the Columbine High School massacre, were good examples. They were misanthropes. They hated other people. They hated themselves. They wanted to kill. They wanted to die. If you needed any evidence of the fact, I have included a sampling of Eric Harris’ journal below. Eric Harris’ journal presents a problem for that other Harris, Sam. When Eric wants to actualize his own well being which, in his view, is killing himself and taking as many others with him as he can, Sam has no external fact to which he can appeal to say that Eric’s ethical choices are objectively wrong and Sam’s are objectively right. After all, Sam believes that human beings are purposeless creatures, the chance by-products of a blind evolutionary process, due to face individual and collective annihilation into nonthingness in a cosmic microsecond. So Sam has no basis to say anything other than that Eric chose differently than him. Eric’s actions led to the worst possible misery for a lot of people but not for Eric. So why should he care if Sam doesn’t like his choices? Because most people don’t? So what? Most people may not like bacon flavored ice cream. They may even consider those who do partake with disgust. But so what? I’ll be damned if I’ll turn down that irresistible combination of the salty and creamy simply because of the different tastes of others.