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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Another quote from Smith

"The religious concern with obedience, duty and guilt stands in stark contrast to the rational conception of morality, where man is of central concern, where man's life is the standard of value, and where moral principles function for human welfare. Any link beween religion and morality is not only unjustified, it is enormously harmful. The religious view of morality is still widely accepted; children are raised by it, and men [hey, and women! - RB] attempt to live by it - with the result that millions of people practice, in the name of morality, what amounts to emotional and intellectual suicide."


Anonymous said...

Nothing but blatant specieisism.

Svlad Cjelli said...

"Wellfare"? Why but that's more muddily defined than "sosaysgodbecausism." How arrogant.

Russell Blackford said...

The vagueness doesn't worry me because I'm not looking for highly determinate purposes for morality or highly determinate advice from a moral system.

I think that the vagueness of something like this is a big problem for someone like Sam Harris, who seems to think, when you dig into the detail, that there are always determinate moral answers or facts if only we could discover them. But it doesn't have to be a problem for everyone who wants to say such things.

Verbose Stoic said...

Yep, that religious concern stands in start contrast to rational conceptions of morality like ... Kant, and the Stoics?

I think that bugged me the first, or if not the second, time I read it. "Rational" conceptions -- meaning those the most focused on reason -- tend to more similar to those sorts of concerns than they are to the ones that do put man's life and human welfare first. Si I'd actually argue that rational conceptions themselves stand in stark contrast to what he calls rational conceptions, where I mean "rational" to be "strictly reason-based".

Now, he could mean "rational" in a weaker sense, meaning ones that are reasonable and justified, but then he'd have time excluding Kant and the Stoics from that as well.