Friday, December 23, 2011

Hitchens v. That Troubling "Law"

Just a quick excerpt:

Hitchens writes that he and other atheists “believe with certainty that an ethical life can be lived without religion,” thus implying that he and others have direct and incorrigible acquaintance with a natural moral law that informs their judgments about what counts as an ethical life.

But to speak of a natural moral law – a set of abstract, immaterial, unchanging principles of human conduct that apply to all persons in all times and in all places – seems oddly out of place in the universe that Hitchens claimed we occupy, a universe that is at bottom a purposeless vortex of matter, energy, and scientific laws that eventually spit out human beings.

Indeed.  Rorty at least was honest enough to admit that he was a "free-rider" on the Judaeo-Christian tradition.


Grim said...

The Pope, of course, credits the natural law argument to the pre-Christian stoics: he made something of a point of that in the speech to the German parliament that you kindly sent me. I took his point to be that it was not necessary to be religious to see the value in having a natural law standard against which to test the justice of positive law; and that's surely correct. It's pretty bold to bring up the Nazis in a speech to the German parliament, but the point is entirely valid: if the only law is positive law, there's no reason to reject the Nazi laws, which were enacted by what was recognized as a legitimate (and legitimately elected) government. One must have the natural law to which we can appeal.

Dad29 said...