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My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Monday, August 20

Ten Moral Principles Part 2 - Secular Humanism

Looking for some inspiration about best moral principles, or revised TEN commandments, I want to take some time to look at the Affirmations of Humanism


We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.
Sounds good to me. I wouldn't have thought of it as a moral principle but maybe it is. An alternative might be following "God's will" or "We are committed to the application of God's will to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems." However, since this is coming from a disbelief in God and a belief in the use of science and reason to understand things, including moral ideas, I suppose it really is a moral principle. Now, how to word it as a commandment.
"Thou shalt apply reason and science to understanding the universe and to solving human problems." I feel uneasy about putting "science" in there but I think it IS good to have something about practical, testable ideas, to commit to revising our ideas as we learn more. Then again, I rather like the idea of wording it as something one has chosen to do, so how about.
"I commit to using reason and science to aid in my understanding of reality and how to act on that knowledge."

I thought it best to leave off "human" because there is the slight possibility that there will be other creatures, intelligent or not, that I might run into problems about. Also, there may be other important things to consider in gaining knowledge of reality. For example, imagination can be extraordinarily helpful, but I don't know whether people would consider it "reason" or "science".

We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.
I wouldn't use deplore. I also don't like the negative slant of this nor the presumption it makes about the truth about "supernatural." While I do think that everything is explainable, I'm not sure humankind will get to the point where everything is explained, and it may be useful to keep an open mind about difficult-to-explain things. For example, there may be beings with special abilities which might seem "beyond natural" to us. I think we're better off assuming there's some explanation but not better off assuming we can know what the explanation will look like. If there were some superly intelligent and benevolent beings, it might be "best" to follow their lead... treat them as something like gods. It wouldn't be outside nature, but it might not be entirely predictable by science. Maybe there should be a principle about having an open mind - supportive of creativity and imagination.

"I support intelligence and to act as if explanations of reality are possible and to look for them."
I think I want to reword the first principle to this:
"I commit to using reason, science, creativity, and imagination to aid in my understanding of reality and how to act on that knowledge."
"I will seek to explore new ideas as they come up and revisit old ones, for truth is not always obvious."

We believe that scientific discovery and technology can contribute to the betterment of human life.
I suppoe this is in contrast to avoiding science and technology. I think it's a bit redundant with the last few principles but possibly useful to have in mind as an implicaiton.

We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.
I don't know about having politics as part of a philosophy. It seems like an area where there is so much yet to learn. Democracies aren't free from oppression although they may be the best we can do.

Whew, it's tiring work, thinking through these things. I'll have to take a break and come back to it another time.

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