Volume 21, Issue 2 (2013)
Focusing on Horizontal Transcendence: Much More than a “Non-Belief”
by Thomas J. Coleman III, Christopher F. Silver, and Jenny Holcombe
Much of the reigning research on non-religion and non-belief focuses on demographics and personality characteristics. While this is a necessary foundation on which future research may be built upon, such data does not necessarily produce theory. In many ways the dominant cultural milieu of religions along with the benign intent of some researchers force a person who holds no belief in a God to assume an oppositional identity in relation to religion. This oppositional identity tautologically sets researchers up to continually define its object by the absence of something. This something cannot always function as a normative point of reference in which to tell researchers what to look for. This article provides one such normative trajectory, termed “horizontal transcendence.”
Can Liberal Christians Save the Church? A Humanist Approach to Contemporary Progressive Christian Theologies
By James A. Metzger
In contrast to many traditional theologies, today’s progressive theologies offer believers an attractive ethic that is humane, pacific, and Earth-centered. And when God is spoken of, he is generally portrayed as non-coercive, deeply invested in the well-being of all, and attentive to the cries of any who suffer. On the one hand, then, humanists have good reason to celebrate this recent shift in thinking about the sacred and divine-human relations. Indeed, we share with progressive Christians a very similar set of core moral values. But, are progressive theologies really any more persuasive than earlier conceptions of the sacred? Do they offer better evidence for their claims? It is argued here that most all suffer from unresolved and rather serious epistemic issues that ultimately undermine their plausibility – and, therefore, their future viability.
A Humanist Ethic of Ubuntu: Understanding Moral Obligation and Community
By Mark Tschaepe
The secular conception of ubuntu, as proffered by Thaddeus Metz, supplies a foundation for a humanist argument that justifies obligation to one’s community, even apart from a South African context, when combined with Kwasi Wiredu’s conception of personhood. Such an account provides an argument for accepting the concept of ubuntu as humanistic and not necessarily based in communalism or dependent upon supernaturalism. By re-evaluating some core concepts of community as they are presented in Plato’s Republic, I argue that this account of ubuntu fits as the basis from which to understand obligation to community from a secular humanist Paul B. Thompson perspective.
Environmentalism and Posthumanism
By Paul B. Thompson
The term ‘posthumanism’ has not been promoted by many environmental philosophers, and it is not clear how the figures I discuss would react to be being characterized as posthumanist. It is more typical for advocates of the perspectives I discuss to characterize them with labels such as ‘nonanthropocentric,’ ‘ecocentric’, or ‘deep ecology.’ Yet, as I will argue, the ideas that have emerged in these lines of thought reflect philosophical commitments that could aptly be characterized as posthumanist.
Capital Punishment: Its Lost Appeal?
By Christopher P. Ferbrache
A large proportion of the population thinks that capital punishment is a reasonable method to reduce crime and punish those who have been convicted of a capital crime. I discuss aspects to the philosophy of capital punishment, and analyze factual elements of murder conviction processes, to significantly cast doubt on the pro-capital punishment argument. In order to measure the true value and need for capital punishment, one must analyze pro capital punishment arguments in light of the alternatives. While theories of deterrence, incapacitation and retribution will be reviewed, theories of rehabilitation and restoration will not since they are not applicable to the capital punishment discussion. With increased legal protections, which are a good thing, and rising costs of incarceration, capital punishment is not the greatest good punishment option for capital crime. The remaining options are revising the capital punishment system, an enormous challenge, or suspending it indefinitely.
Towards an Understanding of Moral Underpinnings
By Victor H. Knight III
Much of today’s public and private discourse surrounding social norms, morals, and values is non-productive, if not counter-productive. It is rare that any kind of consensus is reached when such discrepancies surface. Some of this is due to honest disagreement among genuinely reflective and openminded individuals, but it is becoming more obvious that a large and perhaps growing portion of this problem stems from misunderstandings about the nature of these concepts themselves. Sadly, these misunderstandings do not seem to be diminishing. This essay is an attempt to further the clarification of these ideas from the perspective of a concerned citizen.
Moral Choices in a Random Universe
By Paul Kurtz
This essay is excerpted by Nathan Bupp from Paul Kurtz, The Turbulent Universe (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2013). Copyright ©2013 by the Estate of Paul Kurtz. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the Estate and the publisher, www.prometheusbooks.com.
Paul Kurtz, Atheology, and Secular Humanism
By John R. Shook
Paul Kurtz will be long remembered as the late twentieth century’s preeminent philosophical defender of freethinking rationalism and skepticism, the scientific worldview to replace superstition and religion, the healthy ethics of humanism, and democracy’s foundation in secularism. Reason, science, ethics, and civics – Kurtz repeatedly cycled through these affirmative agendas, not only to relegate religion to humanity’s ignorant past, but mainly to indicate the direction of humanity’s better future.
Emotions and Rationality as a Basis for Humanism: Can Humanism Encompass Both Intellect and Spirit?
By Frank Friedlander
Two primary philosophical underpinnings of humanism are rationality and emotionality. Rationality along with a focus on reason, logic, and an empirical brand of science fortifies our skepticism toward belief in God, and promotes our theories of evolution. Emotionality provides the deeper feelings and compassion we have for one another. These two, rationality and emotionality, are symbolized by the head and heart of ourselves as individuals. They also, to varying degrees, underlay the religions and institutions of which we are a part.
A Commentary on Ronald Dworkin’s Religion Without God
By David Sprintzen
Ronald Dworkin’s posthumous book Religion Without God searches for the possibility of atheistic religiosity. Rather than clarifying the situation, this book does more to confuse it, and succeeds in undermining his expressed humanitarian goals.