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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE and HUMANITY ENHANCED.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Parliament of the World's Religions - the gist of what I plan to say

I want to make two or three points:

(1) There is no one theory of the good or version of the good life that fits all.

(2) There may be some values that I and/or most secularists stress - kindness, sympathy, reason and science, creativity, individual freedom, tolerance of difference.

(3) But the essential thing is the need for us all, from within our comprehensive views of the world, to abjure the use of state power to impose our contestable views of the good on others. We should stick with persuasion. Secularists should take this view (though they don't always) and so should religious people (though they often do not). This would include freedom of religion but also much more, such as free speech and the Millian harm principle. Reasonable religious people should sign on to a framework of secular political principles such as these. If they don't, they will be regarded as unreasonable by liberal secularists and will have to take the consequences of that.

7 comments:

Scott Hedges said...

Good luck Russell, are you planning to wear the fox hat?

Dave Cake said...

Succinctly and well put.

Russell Blackford said...

It seemed to go pretty well, though others are better placed than I am to make that judgment.

mace said...

In a nutshell.However, we don't all agree,particularly,in our new multicultural society, as to what constitutes "harm".Secularists are going to have to be careful.

Roger said...

"Reasonable religious people should sign on to a framework of secular political principles such as these. If they don't, they will be regarded as unreasonable by liberal secularists and will have to take the consequences of that. "

Unfortunately history shows that religious believers and other believers in absolute truths don't follow those principles when they get the chance and enforce their supposed moral principles with extreme rigour.

Russell Blackford said...

Mace - at least it's a more manageable argument, and there's a fair of agreement on what the harm principle means as opposed to whether it's accepted. E.g. Joel Feinberg's 4-volume magnum opus is well regarded. I agree, though, that it's not a panacea and that many people use it in bad faith.

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.