Sam Harris „The moral Landscape“ über Feminismus

Das Buch „The moral landscape“ von Sam Harris (hier im PDF Volltext) enthält auch einige schöne Stellen die gut auf feministische Theorien passen

Erst geht es um „Moralische Blindheit im Namen von Toleranz“, was sehr gut zum Thema Intersektionalismus passt:

Moral Blindness in the Name of “Tolerance”

There are very practical concerns that follow from the glib idea that anyone is free to value anything—the most consequential being that it is precisely what allows highly educated, secular, and otherwise well-intentioned people to pause thoughtfully, and often interminably, before condemning practices like compulsory veiling, genital excision, bride burning, forced marriage, and the other cheerful products of alternative “morality” found elsewhere in the world. Fanciers of Hume’s is/ought distinction never seem to realize what the stakes are, and they do not see how abject failures of compassion are enabled by this intellectual “tolerance” of moral difference. While much of the debate on these issues must be had in academic terms, this is not merely an academic debate. There are girls getting their faces burned off with acid at this moment for daring to learn to read, or for not consenting to marry men they have never met, or even for the “crime” of getting raped. The amazing thing is that some Western intellectuals won’t even blink when asked to defend these practices on philosophical grounds. I once spoke at an academic conference on themes similar to those discussed here. Near the end of my lecture, I made what I thought would be a quite incontestable assertion: We already have good reason to believe that certain cultures are less suited to maximizing well-being than others. I cited the ruthless misogyny and religious bamboozlement of the Taliban as an example of a worldview that seems less than perfectly conducive to human flourishing.

As it turns out, to denigrate the Taliban at a scientific meeting is to court controversy. At the conclusion of my talk, I fell into debate with another invited speaker, who seemed, at first glance, to be very well positioned to reason effectively about the
implications of science for our understanding of morality. In fact, this person has since been appointed to the President’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues and is now one of only thirteen people who will advise President Obama on “issues that may emerge from advances in biomedicine and related areas of science and technology” in order to ensure that “scientific research, health care delivery, and technological
innovation are conducted in an ethically responsible manner.

Here is a snippet of our conversation, more or less verbatim:
She: What makes you think that science will ever be able to say that forcing women to wear burqas is wrong?
Me: Because I think that right and wrong are a matter of increasing or decreasing well-being—and it is obvious that forcing half the population to live in cloth bags, and beating or killing them if they refuse, is not a good strategy for maximizing human wellbeing.

She: But that’s only your opinion.

Me: Okay … Let’s make it even simpler. What if we found a culture that ritually blinded every third child by literally plucking out his or her eyes at birth, would you then agree that we had found a culture that was needlessly diminishing human well-being?

She: It would depend on why they were doing it.
Me [slowly returning my eyebrows from the back of my head]: Let’s say they were doing it on the basis of religious superstition. In their scripture, God says, “Every third must walk in darkness.”
She: Then you could never say that they were wrong.


While human beings have different moral codes, each competing view presumes its own universality. This seems to be true even of moral relativism. While few philosophers have ever answered to the name of “moral relativist,” it is by no means uncommon to find local eruptions of this view whenever scientists and other academics encounter moral diversity. Forcing women and girls to wear burqas may be wrong in Boston or Palo Alto, so the argument will run, but we cannot say that it is wrong for Muslims in Kabul. To demand that the proud denizens of an ancient culture conform to our view of gender equality would be culturally imperialistic and philosophically naïve.

This is a surprisingly common view, especially among anthropologists. Moral relativism, however, tends to be self-contradictory. Relativists may say that moral truths exist only relative to a specific cultural framework—but this claim about the status of moral truth purports to be true across all possible frameworks. In practice, relativism almost always amounts to the claim that we should be tolerant of moral difference because no moral truth can supersede any other. And yet this commitment to tolerance is not put forward as simply one relative preference among others deemed
equally valid. Rather, tolerance is held to be more in line with the (universal) truth about morality than intolerance is.

The contradiction here is unsurprising. Given how deeply disposed we are to make universal moral claims, I think one can reasonably doubt whether any consistent moral relativist has ever existed. Moral relativism is clearly an attempt to pay intellectual reparations for the crimes of Western colonialism, ethnocentrism, and racism. This is, I think, the only charitable thing to be said about it. I hope it is clear that I am not defending the idiosyncrasies of the West as any more enlightened, in principle, than those of any other culture. Rather, I am arguing that the most basic facts about human flourishing must transcend culture, just as most other facts do. And if there are facts that are truly a matter of cultural construction—if, for instance, learning a specific language or tattooing your face fundamentally alters the possibilities of human experience—well, then these facts also arise from (neurophysiological) processes that transcend culture

Hier spricht er sich letztendlich gegen die feministische Theorie aus, dass man bestimmte kulturelle Praktiken nicht moralisch verurteilen kann, wenn sie von einer bestimmten Minderheit ausgeübt werden. Es wäre interessant, wie poststrukturalistische intersektionalistische Feministen auf sein Argument reagieren würden. Die Burka an sich wird ja dort auch als etwas gesehen, in das man sich nicht einmischen darf. Wobei dies im Feminismus ja noch etwas anders gehandhabt wird: Man dürfte auch in Boston oder Palo Alto nicht sagen, dass eine Frau keine Burka tragen darf, solange sie ein PoC wäre. Ich vermute allerdings, dass man Eingriffe an Kindern auch dort kritischer sehen würde. Gibt es intersektionelle Betrachtungen zur weiblichen Beschneidung in deutschen Blogs?

Dennoch finde ich die Gegenperspektive interessant, weil sie von einer umfassenden moralischen Bewertbarkeit ausgeht. Ich hatte ja auch schon einmal angeführt, dass ansonsten schnell Unstimmigkeiten auftreten, die jede moralische Wertung beliebig und unverbindlich machen.

Dann geht es um „Moral Science“

There are academics who have built entire careers on the allegation that the foundations of science are rotten with bias—sexist, racist, imperialist, Northern, etc. Sandra Harding, a feminist philosopher of science, is probably the most famous proponent of this view.

On her account, these prejudices have driven science into an epistemological cul-de-sac called “weak objectivity.” To remedy this dire situation, Harding recommends that scientists immediately give “feminist” and “multicultural” epistemologies their due.

First, let’s be careful not to confuse this quite crazy claim for its sane cousin: There is no question that scientists have occasionally demonstrated sexist and racist biases. The composition of some branches of science is still disproportionately white and male (though some are now disproportionately female), and one can reasonably wonder whether bias is the cause. There are also legitimate questions to be asked about the direction and application of science: in medicine, for instance, it seems clear that women’s health issues have been sometimes neglected because the prototypical human being has been considered male. One can also argue that the contributions of women and minority groups to science have occasionally been ignored or undervalued: the case of Rosalind Franklin standing in the shadows of Crick and Watson might be an example of this. But none of these facts, alone or in combination, or however multiplied, remotely suggests that our notions of scientific objectivity are vitiated by racism or sexism. 

Is there really such a thing as a feminist or multicultural epistemology? Harding’s case is not helped when she finally divulges that there is not just one feminist epistemology, but many. On this view, why was Hitler’s notion of “Jewish physics” (or Stalin’s idea of “capitalist biology”) anything less than a thrilling insight into the richness of epistemology? Should we now consider the possibility of not only Jewish physics, but of Jewish women’s physics? How could such a balkanization of science be a step toward “strong objectivity”? And if political inclusiveness is our primary concern, where could such efforts to broaden our conception of scientific truth possibly end? Physicists tend to have an unusual aptitude for complex mathematics, and anyone who doesn’t cannot expect to make much of a contribution to the field. Why not remedy this situation as well? Why not create an epistemology for physicists who failed calculus? Why not be bolder still and establish a branch of physics for people suffering from debilitating brain injuries? Who could reasonably expect that such efforts at inclusiveness would increase our understanding of a phenomenon like gravity? As Steven Weinberg once said regarding similar doubts about the objectivity of science, “You have to be very learned to be that wrong.” Indeed, one does—and many are.

Das finde ich eine schöne Stellungnahme zu der feministischen Standpunkttheorie. Es zeigt durch die Übertreibung der Theorie, dass diese wenig Gehalt hat, indem darauf abgestellt wird, dass Standpunkte verschiedener benachteiligter Gruppen eben nicht zu besseren Ergebnissen führen müssen. Der Schlußsatz „Man muss sehr gebildet sein um so daneben zu liegen“ passt aus meiner Sicht auch sehr gut in die Feministische Theorie: Es wird dort durch allerlei kompliziert klingende Texte versucht, relativ simple Theorien einen intellektuellen Hauch zu geben um sie gegen Kritik zu immunisieren und zu verschleiern, dass ihre wissenschaftliche Basis kaum vorhanden ist. Wer ein Beispiel will, der lese Judith Butler.