Program Details

Science and Human Values

Russell Hamer
Science / Health & Fitness

Course Description

This series will examine the critical role that science plays in the development of human values and moral, ethical structures. Ideally, these should be universally applicable, promoting human well-being across cultural and societal boundaries while minimizing cultural chauvinism. The project facing us is the development of moral/ethical structures driven by evidence-based knowledge. The brain sciences – psychology and neuroscience - are critical for bridging the gap between science and human values because these values are all states of the human brain and thus fall within the purview of rational inquiry.  Therefore, it is important to investigate and update our values based on facts derived from rational scientific inquiry.


  1. Beliefs are States of the Brain!
  2. Sensory-Perceptual-Observational Epistemology: How We Come to Know What We Know.
  3. The Relationship Between Well-Being and Morality: A Critical Evaluation of Sam Harris’ “Moral Landscape.”
  4. "Case Studies”: Where Science Has, and Where it Has Not Yet, Transformed Our Values

About the Instructor

  • Russell D. Hamer, Ph.D., is a visual neuroscientist who studies how the eye and brain process light information to create our rich visual world. He did research for 22 years at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute (San Francisco), followed by seven years of research and teaching at the Institute of Psychology at the University of  São Paulo,  São Paulo, Brazil. He is one of the world’s leading experts on the visual development of human infants. His research interests and writings also include Analyses of Art & Aesthetics from the point of view of visual brain mechanisms, Perception & Illusions, the relationship between Science & Human Values, Precision of Human Musical Rhythm, and Evolution of Modern Popular Cuban Music (“Timba”).