We’ve seen a fair amount of folly recently, and of course the usual charming silliness.
Excruciating confusion of facts and opinions; of truths and beliefs; and demands for rights, for the right to say whatever one wants, for the right for that to be taken seriously–and for nonsense to have the same rights as sense.
Well, here’s one answer to the ethical conundrum; or rather, where ethics meets up with metaphysics (inc. beliefs) and language and mind. I refer you to–da da da dum–
Um, with apologies for the gratuitous unethical act in the middle there.
“We can respect, in the minimal sense of tolerating, those who hold false beliefs. We can pass by on the other side. We need not be concerned to change them, and in a liberal society we do not seek to suppress them or silence them. But once we are convinced that a belief is false, or even just that it is irrational, we cannot respect in any thicker sense those who hold it—not on account of their holding it.”
“People sometimes say they respect the ‘sincerity’ of those who display passionate conviction, even when what they are convinced about is visibly false. But surely we ought to find passion and conviction in such a case dangerous and lamentable.”
Context is, as ever, all; and I’m not saying I agree with the thing as a whole; and I’m aware of the implications seen there by a fair number of people re. one particular religion; which yes, I find troubling–more for personal reasons, which are not always easy to disentangle from reason proper. But there’s some damn fine useful quotes and arguments that can be pulled out, such as the above. You can read the full paper here: “Religion and Respect” (2004): http://www.phil.cam.ac.uk/~swb24/PAPERS/religion%20and%20respect.pdf
Some other possibly useful links (with apologies to readers of a religious persuasion for any offence caused by my non-belief):
- The British Humanist Association: page on SB as one of their Distinguished Supporters
- here are their other current Distinguished Supporters (sorry, I love that title!) and non-current ones (deceased)
- The “Investigating Atheism” project at the University of Cambridge > current controversies (New Atheism) > articles: responses
Happy reading, and happy Remembrance Day tomorrow. However you choose to remember it, for whatever reasons, and for whichever individual people.