Tag Archives: Michael Shermer

On Michael Shermer’s defence of moral realism

“Is there anyone (other than slave holders and Nazis) who would argue that slavery and the Holocaust are not really wrong, absolutely wrong, objectively wrong, naturally wrong?”

Yes, I would (and I don’t think I’m either a slave holder or a Nazi). That quote ends Michael Shermer’s recent defence of moral realism on his Skeptic blog.

My disagreement with Shermer comes down to what we even mean by morality being “objective” rather than “subjective”. Indeed this particular disagreement can account for a lot of people talking past each other. Shermer explains: Continue reading


On sexism, Ophelia Benson, Michael Shermer, hyperbole, and my stumbles into the Rift

Why are atheists “militant” (as we are so often described)? Because we object to being treated as lesser humans just because we don’t believe in gods; because we don’t want the state to give extra privileges to the religious and treat us as second-class just because we are atheists. And speaking up, seeking only equality, gets us labelled as “militant”. Unfortunately, such is the history of religious privilege that most Western societies are still far from having a genuine secularism that treats everyone equally (and don’t even ask about the Islamic world).

Another privilege running through the history of most societies is male privilege. This is diminishing (at least in the West) and it has diminished largely because of the “militant” women who speak up and demand equality, that they not be treated any less favourably just because of their gender. Any atheist who supports secularism must — if they have any consistency — applaud them and fully support the equality of women. Unfortunately, such is the history of male privilege that most Western societies have still not arrived at full equality for women (and don’t even ask about the Islamic world). Continue reading