Yeah, I've read that interview and it doesn't sway me from my initial position - that he is a utilitarian.
My reading of your quote is "justice, fairness and creativity are states that are generally conducive to wellbeing.", which is something so boringly utilitarian that I could've said it! I didn't find a line of The Moral Landscape to be inconsistent with utilitarianism, whereas there were plenty that carried heavily utilitarian connotation. Here are a few:
Sam Harris wrote:Let us begin with the fact of consciousness: I think we can know, through reason alone, that consciousness is the only intelligible domain of value. What is the alternative? I invite you to try to think of a source of value that has absolutely nothing to do with the (actual or potential) experience of conscious beings. Take a moment to think about what this would entail: whatever this alternative is, it cannot affect the experience of any creature (in this life or in any other). Put this thing in a box, and what you have in that box is—it would seem, by definition—the least interesting thing in the universe.
So how much time should we spend worrying about such a transcendent source of value? I think the time I will spend typing this sentence is already too much. All other notions of value will bear some relationship to the actual or potential experience of conscious beings.
Sam Harris wrote:Much of the skepticism I encounter when speaking about these issues comes from people who think “happiness” is a superficial state of mind and that there are far more important things in life than “being happy.” Some readers may think that concepts like “well-being” and “flourishing” are similarly effete. However, I don’t know of any better terms with which to signify the most positive states of being to which we can aspire.
Some of what psychologists have learned about human well-being confirms what everyone already knows: people tend to be happier if they have good friends, basic control over their lives, and enough money to meet their needs. Loneliness, helplessness, and poverty are not recommended. We did not need science to tell us this.
But the best of this research also reveals that our intuitions about happiness are often quite wrong. For instance, most of us feel that having more choices available to us—when seeking a mate, choosing a career, shopping for a new stove, etc.—is always desirable. But while having some choice is generally good, it seems that having too many options tends to undermine our feelings of satisfaction, no matter which option we choose.
It is useful to know that what we think will matter often matters much less than we think. Conversely, things we consider trivial can actually impact our lives greatly.
Sam Harris wrote:if evil turned out to be as reliable a path to happiness as goodness is, my argument about the moral landscape would still stand, as would the likely utility of neuroscience for investigating it. It would no longer be an especially “moral” landscape; rather it would be a continuum of well-being, upon which saints and sinners would occupy equivalent peaks.
At the very worst, you could call The Moral Landscape a text of 'popular utilitarianism', allowing you to distinguish it from the writings of RM Hare and Peter Singer. Still, even this seems unnecessary. For god's sake, you'll find greater deviations from the principles of utilitarianism in John Stuart Mill's On Liberty, than here.
That's my two cents.