Politics

Worldview naturalism has progressive implications for politics and policy, some of which are explored in this section. It is no coincidence that scientists and others with a naturalistic worldview tend to be liberals. They see no good justification for supposing any class of individuals, such as females, gays, religious minorities, races or ethnicities, deserves unequal treatment. Conservatives, on the other hand, are more likely to hold non-naturalist views about human nature that serve to reinforce inequalities based on such classifications. Articles in this section explore how promoting naturalism can help move the culture in a politically progressive direction.

Articles in this Section

Sub-sections

  • Libertarians often insist that human beings are radically autonomous agents, uninfluenced in some crucial respect by the various causes that on a naturalistic understanding of ourselves explain behavior. This view tends to justify a laissez-faire political philosophy, since if people are mostly self-made, there is little society can, and therefore should, do to alleviate the difficulties of those who are unlucky in life. But interestingly enough, libertarians are also mightily concerned to limit government intervention, lest it have too much of an impact in our lives. This suggests that they actually do recognize the power of social and environmental influences, and that the self-originating autonomy they defend is simply a rationalization for keeping government "off our backs." What follow are some exchanges with libertarians, two in Reason magazine, another in the Boston Globe. I then critique of Ayn Rand's Objectivism, and take up the issue of what sort of state, the laissez-faire disciplinarian state, or the mentor state, maximizes liberty.

Related Content from Other Sections

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    Pinker is a conditional, rational optimist, not a Panglossian, about the prospects for continued global economic and moral progress. There is much we need to do, and can do, if we set our minds to it, to advance human flourishing and protect against existential threats. Besides making the rational case for science and reason itself, his book offers guidance on defending and augmenting the success we’ve achieved on multiple fronts, economic, political, and social. Hope for the human project is justified if we act on behalf of, and on the basis of, the Enlightenment ideals that Pinker argues account for our progress thus far.

  • Saving Secularism: The Open Interrogation of Faith, Book Review

    How can secular liberals (including many progressive naturalists and religionists) best defend a pluralistic, diverse, open society against the authoritarian and absolutist opposition?

  • Progressive Policy Implications of Naturalism, Article
    By challenging the myth of the self-made self, naturalism undercuts a central justification for conservative social policies, and thus is inherently progressive in its implications.