I'm heading North

This coming Wednesday the 6th of May I’m flying up to Auckland for a week. I’ll be staying with my friends Matt and Mads from the M and M blog.

On Tuesday the 12th of May before flying home I’ll be speaking at the Auckland branch of Thinking Matters. The subject of the talk will be Religion in the Public Square. Here’s the short story:

According to a number of influential thinkers, it is wrong for citizens to support policies because of their religious convictions because this would make those policies unjustified in a liberal democracy. Is this true?

Dr Peoples argues that the rules used to exclude such policies are simply not workable or reasonable. He explains that more sensible and fair models of public justification do in fact permit us to promote policies that we hold on the basis of our religious convictions. However, when the architects of these improved models realise that they have now opened the door to religious participation in public life, they change the rules, shifting the goalpost and inventing special exceptions in order to maintain that those with religious convictions should keep them out of the public square.

Location: Lecture Room 2, Laidlaw College, 80 Central Park Drive, Henderson, West Auckland

Time: 7:30pm, Tuesday the 12th of May

On a related note – Episode 27 , the second part in my podcast series on philosophy of mind, isn’t finished yet. I’m going to have to put it on hold until I get back.

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17 thoughts on “I'm heading North

  1. I found this interesting:

    “According to a number of influential thinkers, it is wrong for citizens to support policies because of their religious convictions because this would make those policies unjustified in a liberal democracy. Is this true?”

    Why is secular law more correct or valid than laws based on religious convictions? According to whom?

  2. That is sad Geoff (or should I call you Goeff?) LOL

    We are looking forward to having you kick off our winter series on God, Morality and Religion.

  3. Mads,

    Its not me kicking it off.. although I can if you want..

    Here is my byline, and summary of the complete lecture:
    “God is real, so get some morals and stop being religious… f00!”

    (note, I got a D- for that paper :P)

  4. “Why is secular law more correct or valid than laws based on religious convictions?”

    It’s what we used to call in High School maths an “error carried forward”.

    If you base law on religious convictions then you have started from an error (i.e. that god exists), better to make sure your justifications for whatever you are arguing for start from true premises.

  5. Eric, whether you realise it or not, what you’ve just offered is a rationale that can never be upheld in a truly liberal democracy of the kind that this presentation will be about. You’ve essentially required that people – as citizens, at least – regard theism as an error. It is as fairminded – in the sense that liberals care about fairmindedness – as requiring that all people only support policies that start from Anglican beliefs. Now, you might not be a fan of the kind of liberalism I’m talking about. But if you are, you’ll have to re-think your approach to acceptable vs unacceptable policy.

  6. Eric said:

    “If you base law on religious convictions then you have started from an error (i.e. that god exists), better to make sure your justifications for whatever you are arguing for start from true premises.”

    I don’t see how that follows Eric. First, can you prove that God does not exist? Second, if I believe that murder is wrong because of religious beliefs, how is that belief (that murder is wrong) less valid than if I came to it by non-religious reasoning?

    And I would like to know what your justification for the “wrongness” of murder is. What are your “true” premises?

  7. Scalia – Auckland bloggers’ drinks? I don’t know. If my hosts M and M are in the habit of attending, then I’ll be there.

  8. Geoff I had phrased that poorly but I had alas clicked on “send comment” by the time I realised.

    Glenn we go to the Auckland Bloggers drinks and were planning on bringing you along. We could definitely use you to tag team against Not PC over the existence of beer coasters, tables and God – the man just goes around and around and around and around and around and doesn’t seem to tire!

    Scalia are you going to be making an appearance?

  9. “You’ve essentially required that people – as citizens, at least – regard theism as an error.”

    Not at all, people, citizens, are free to believe in theism as much as they wish, and as a liberal – libertarian even – the laws I would have would leave them free to be as theistic as they wished.

    “First, can you prove that God does not exist?”

    You’ll need to define ‘God’ first.

    “Second, if I believe that murder is wrong because of religious beliefs, how is that belief (that murder is wrong) less valid than if I came to it by non-religious reasoning?”

    Your conclusion (murder is wrong) is true, it’s just the premises you use, i.e. those involving God, that let you down.

  10. Eric said :

    “Your conclusion (murder is wrong) is true, it’s just the premises you use, i.e. those involving God, that let you down.”

    Eric, then give us your true premises that prove – deductivley, that murder is wrong.

    Eric said:

    “You’ll need to define ‘God’ first.”

    A supremely powerful, rational Creator. You know, akin to the Christian God…

  11. Eric, in fact you were indeed requiring the people – as citizens – regard theism as an error. You said, after all, that the reason people should not base their political decisions on their religious beliefs is that theism is an error.

  12. “Eric, then give us your true premises that prove – deductivley, that murder is wrong.”

    Don’t need to, that isn’t the point. My point is that if murder is wrong then it is wrong for real reasons. Inventing a god won’t help you to prove that murder is wrong.

    “A supremely powerful, rational Creator. You know, akin to the Christian God”

    That’s not helping any. All you have done is say what it does (Creates, apparently powerfully and rationally), not what it is. Likewise with sayiing it is “akin to the Christian God” – I haven’t heard a definition of that either. So, what is this “god” of which you speak? 🙂

  13. Glenn. I’m not “requiring” that people regard anything.

    James originally asked “Why is secular law more correct or valid than laws based on religious convictions?”, to which I gave the answers I gave. Again, people are free to believe and promote whatever they wish, it’s just that if it is from religious grounds it won’t be valid.

  14. Eric, unless you’re talking about what people should and should not do, I have absolutely no idea what you mean by “valid.” The most sensible reading of your comments suggests that you mean it’s not right or proper to advance policies on religious grounds. If that’s what you mean, then my observation is correct even if you’re uncomfortable with the idea that you’re spelling out some sort of requirement.

    (If you did not mean that these actions would be improper or not right, then you’ll have to explain what you mean by “valid.”)

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