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Showing posts from February, 2012

The moral significance of suffering

A naturalistic worldview has no place for objective moral value, yet most naturalists express optimism concerning the prospects for a naturalistic morality. The basis for this optimism is human beings' shared capacity to recognize and respond to the suffering of our fellow creatures, both human and non-human. Louise Antony, for example, in a recent post in the NY Times, claims that atheists "find moral value to be immanent in the natural world, arising from the vulnerabilities of sentient beings and from the capacities of rational beings to recognize and respond to those vulnerabilities and capacities in others." Later on she has harsh words for those who think that "another being's pain is not in itself a reason to give aid." I recall Peter Singer giving a similar account during a debate with Dinesh D'Souza.

It is undeniably true that human beings and other sentient creatures suffer. It is also undeniably true that (many) human beings in (some) situati…