email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
Anger and Forgiveness"Are You There Alone?"10 Good Questions about Life and DeathA Casebook of Ethical Challenges in NeuropsychologyA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to Muslim EthicsA Cooperative SpeciesA Critique of the Moral Defense of VegetarianismA Delicate BalanceA Life for a LifeA Life-Centered Approach to BioethicsA Matter of SecurityA Natural History of Human MoralityA Philosophical DiseaseA Practical Guide to Clinical Ethics ConsultingA Question of TrustA Sentimentalist Theory of the MindA Short Stay in SwitzerlandA Very Bad WizardA World Without ValuesAction and ResponsibilityAction Theory, Rationality and CompulsionActs of ConscienceAddiction and ResponsibilityAddiction NeuroethicsAdvance Directives in Mental HealthAfter HarmAftermathAgainst AutonomyAgainst BioethicsAgainst HealthAgainst Moral ResponsibilityAgency and AnswerabilityAgency and ResponsibilityAgency, Freedom, and Moral ResponsibilityAging, Biotechnology, and the FutureAlbert Schweitzer's Reverence for LifeAlphavilleAltruismAmerican EugenicsAmerican PsychosisAn Anthology of Psychiatric EthicsAn Introduction to EthicsAn Introduction to Evolutionary EthicsAn Introduction to Kant's Moral Philosophy And a Time to DieAnimal LessonsAnimal RightsAnimals Like UsApplied Ethics in Mental Health CareAre Women Human?Aristotle on Practical WisdomAristotle's Ethics and Moral ResponsibilityAssisted Suicide and the Right to DieAutonomyAutonomy and the Challenges to LiberalismAutonomy, Consent and the LawBabies by DesignBackslidingBad PharmaBad SoulsBasic Desert, Reactive Attitudes and Free WillBeauty JunkiesBefore ForgivingBeing AmoralBeing YourselfBending Over BackwardsBending ScienceBernard WilliamsBetter Humans?Better Than WellBeyond ChoiceBeyond GeneticsBeyond HatredBeyond Humanity?Beyond LossBeyond LossBeyond Moral JudgmentBeyond the DSM StoryBias in Psychiatric DiagnosisBioethicsBioethicsBioethics and the BrainBioethics at the MoviesBioethics Beyond the HeadlinesBioethics Critically ReconsideredBioethics in a Liberal SocietyBioethics in the ClinicBiomedical EthicsBiomedical EthicsBiomedical EthicsBiomedical EthicsBiomedical Research and BeyondBiosBioscience EthicsBipolar ChildrenBluebirdBodies out of BoundsBodies, Commodities, and BiotechnologiesBody BazaarBoundBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBraintrustBrandedBreaking the SilenceBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyCapital PunishmentCase Studies in Biomedical Research EthicsChallenging the Stigma of Mental IllnessCharacter and Moral Psychology Character as Moral FictionChild Well-BeingChildrenChildren's RightsChoosing ChildrenChoosing Not to ChooseClinical Dilemmas in PsychotherapyClinical EthicsCloningClose toYouCoercion as CureCoercive Treatment in PsychiatryCognition of Value in Aristotle's EthicsCognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Moral Philosophy Comfortably NumbCommonsense RebellionCommunicative Action and Rational ChoiceCompetence, Condemnation, and CommitmentComprehending CareConducting Insanity EvaluationsConfidential RelationshipsConfidentiality and Mental HealthConflict of Interest in the ProfessionsConsuming KidsContemporary Debates In Applied EthicsContemporary Debates in Moral TheoryContemporary Debates in Social PhilosophyContentious IssuesContesting PsychiatryCrazy in AmericaCreating CapabilitiesCreatures Like Us?Crime and CulpabilityCrime, Punishment, and Mental IllnessCritical Perspectives in Public HealthCritical PsychiatryCrueltyCultural Assessment in Clinical PsychiatryCutting to the CoreCyborg CitizenDamaged IdentitiesDeaf Identities in the MakingDeath Is That Man Taking NamesDebating Same-Sex MarriageDecision Making, Personhood and DementiaDecoding the Ethics CodeDefining DifferenceDefining Right and Wrong in Brain ScienceDefining the Beginning and End of LifeDelusions of GenderDementiaDemocracy in What State?Demons of the Modern WorldDescriptions and PrescriptionsDesert and VirtueDesire, Practical Reason, and the GoodDestructive Trends in Mental HealthDid My Neurons Make Me Do It?Difference and IdentityDigital HemlockDigital SoulDignityDisability BioethicsDisability, Difference, DiscriminationDisordered Personalities and CrimeDisorders of VolitionDisorientation and Moral LifeDivided Minds and Successive SelvesDoes Feminism Discriminate against Men?Does Torture Work?Double Standards in Medical Research in Developing CountriesDrugs and JusticeDworkin and His CriticsDying in the Twenty-First CenturyEarly WarningEconomics and Youth ViolenceEmbodied RhetoricsEmerging Conceptual, Ethical and Policy Issues in BionanotechnologyEmotional ReasonEmotions in the Moral LifeEmotions in the Moral LifeEmpathyEmpathy and Moral DevelopmentEmpathy and MoralityEmpirical Ethics in PsychiatryEncountering NatureEncountering the Sacred in PsychotherapyEngendering International HealthEnhancing EvolutionEnhancing Human CapacitiesEnoughEros and the GoodErotic InnocenceErotic MoralityEssays on Derek Parfit's On What MattersEssays on Free Will and Moral ResponsibilityEthical Choices in Contemporary MedicineEthical Conflicts in PsychologyEthical Dilemmas in PediatricsEthical Issues in Behavioral ResearchEthical Issues in Dementia CareEthical Issues in Forensic Mental Health ResearchEthical Issues in the New GeneticsEthical LifeEthical Reasoning for Mental Health ProfessionalsEthical TheoryEthical WillsEthically Challenged ProfessionsEthicsEthicsEthicsEthics and AnimalsEthics and ScienceEthics and the A PrioriEthics and the Discovery of the UnconsciousEthics and the Metaphysics of MedicineEthics at the CinemaEthics Case Book of the American Psychoanalytic AssociationEthics Done RightEthics ExpertiseEthics for EveryoneEthics for PsychologistsEthics for the New MillenniumEthics in CyberspaceEthics in Health CareEthics In Health Services ManagementEthics in Mental Health ResearchEthics in PracticeEthics in PsychiatryEthics in PsychologyEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingEthics of PsychiatryEthics without OntologyEthics, Culture, and PsychiatryEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEvaluating the Science and Ethics of Research on HumansEvilEvil GenesEvil in Modern ThoughtEvil in Modern ThoughtEvolution, Gender, and RapeEvolutionary Ethics and Contemporary BiologyEvolutionary Psychology and ViolenceEvolved MoralityExperiments in EthicsExploding the Gene MythExploiting ChildhoodFacing Human SufferingFact and ValueFaking ItFalse-Memory Creation in Children and AdultsFat ShameFatal FreedomFellow-Feeling and the Moral LifeFeminism and Its DiscontentsFeminist Ethics and Social and Political PhilosophyFeminist TheoryFinal ExamFirst Do No HarmFirst, Do No HarmFlashpointFlesh WoundsForced to CareForgivenessForgivenessForgiveness and LoveForgiveness and ReconciliationForgiveness and RetributionFoucault and the Government of DisabilityFoundational Issues in Human Brain MappingFoundations of Forensic Mental Health AssessmentFree WillFree Will And Moral ResponsibilityFree Will and Reactive AttitudesFree Will, Agency, and Meaning in LifeFree?Freedom and ValueFreedom vs. InterventionFriendshipFrom Darwin to HitlerFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Enlightenment to ReceptivityFrom Morality to Mental HealthFrom Silence to VoiceFrontiers of JusticeGender in the MirrorGenetic PoliticsGenetic ProspectsGenetic ProspectsGenetics of Original SinGenetics of Original SinGenocide's AftermathGetting RealGluttonyGood WorkGoodness & AdviceGreedGroups in ConflictGrowing Up GirlGut FeminismHabilitation, Health, and AgencyHandbook for Health Care Ethics CommitteesHandbook of BioethicsHandbook of PsychopathyHappinessHappiness and the Good LifeHappiness Is OverratedHard FeelingsHard LuckHardwired BehaviorHarmful ThoughtsHeal & ForgiveHealing PsychiatryHealth Care Ethics for PsychologistsHeterosyncraciesHistorical and Philosophical Perspectives on Biomedical EthicsHoly WarHookedHookedHow Can I Be Trusted?How Propaganda WorksHow to Do Things with Pornography How to Make Opportunity EqualHow Universities Can Help Create a Wiser WorldHow We HopeHow We Think About DementiaHuman BondingHuman EnhancementHuman GoodnessHuman Identity and BioethicsHuman TrialsHumanism, What's That?Humanitarian ReasonHumanityHumanizing MadnessI am Not Sick I Don't Need Help!I Was WrongIdentifying Hyperactive ChildrenIf That Ever Happens to MeImproving Nature?In Defense of FloggingIn Defense of SinIn Love With LifeIn Our Own ImageIn the FamilyIn the Land of the DeafIn the Name of IdentityIn the Wake of 9/11In Two MindsInformed Consent in Medical ResearchInnovation in Medical TechnologyInside Assisted LivingInside EthicsIntelligence, Race, and GeneticsIntensive CareIs Human Nature Obsolete?Is Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Is There a Duty to Die?Is There an Ethicist in the House?Issues in Philosophical CounselingJudging Children As ChildrenJust a DogJust BabiesJust CareJustice for ChildrenJustice for HedgehogsJustice in RobesJustice, Luck, and KnowledgeJustifiable ConductKant on Moral AutonomyKant's Theory of VirtueKids of CharacterKilling McVeighLack of CharacterLack of CharacterLaw and the BrainLearning About School ViolenceLeaving YouLectures on the History of Political PhilosophyLegal and Ethical Aspects of HealthcareLegal Aspects of Mental CapacityLegal ConceptionsLegalizing ProstitutionLet Them Eat ProzacLevelling the Playing FieldLiberal Education in a Knowledge SocietyLiberal EugenicsLife After FaithLife at the BottomLife, Sex, and IdeasListening to the WhispersLiving ProfessionalismLosing Matt ShepardLostLuckyMad in AmericaMad PrideMadhouseMaking Another World PossibleMaking Babies, Making FamiliesMaking Genes, Making WavesMaking Sense of Freedom and ResponsibilityMalignantMasculinity Studies and Feminist TheoryMeaning and Moral OrderMeaning in LifeMeaning in Life and Why It MattersMeans, Ends, and PersonsMedical Enhancement and PosthumanityMedical Research for HireMedicalized MasculinitiesMedically Assisted DeathMeditations for the HumanistMelancholia and MoralismMental Health Professionals, Minorities and the PoorMental Illness, Medicine and LawMerit, Meaning, and Human BondageMetaethical SubjectivismMill's UtilitarianismMind FieldsMind WarsMind WarsModern Theories of JusticeModernity and TechnologyMoney ShotMonsterMoral Acquaintances and Moral DecisionsMoral ClarityMoral CultivationMoral Development and RealityMoral Dilemmas in Real LifeMoral DimensionsMoral EntanglementsMoral FailureMoral LiteracyMoral MachinesMoral MindsMoral OriginsMoral Panics, Sex PanicsMoral ParticularismMoral PerceptionMoral PsychologyMoral Psychology: Volume IVMoral RealismMoral RelativismMoral RepairMoral Responsibility and Alternative PossibilitiesMoral Status and Human LifeMoral StealthMoral Theory at the MoviesMoral TribesMoral Value and Human DiversityMoral, Immoral, AmoralMoralismMorality and Self-InterestMorality in a Natural WorldMorality, Moral Luck and ResponsibilityMorals, Rights and Practice in the Human ServicesMorals, Rights and Practice in the Human ServicesMore Than HumanMotive and RightnessMovies and the Moral Adventure of LifeMurder in the InnMy Body PoliticMy Brain Made Me Do ItMy Sister's KeeperMy Sister's KeeperMy WayNano-Bio-EthicsNarrative MedicineNarrative ProsthesisNatural Ethical FactsNatural-Born CybogsNaturalized BioethicsNeither Bad nor MadNeoconservatismNeonatal BioethicsNeurobiology and the Development of Human MoralityNeuroethicsNeuroethicsNeuroethicsNew Takes in Film-PhilosophyNew Waves in EthicsNew Waves in MetaethicsNietzsche on Ethics and PoliticsNo Child Left DifferentNo Impact ManNormative EthicsNormativityNothing about us, without us!Oath BetrayedOf War and LawOn ApologyOn Being AuthenticOn EvilOn Human RightsOn The Stigma Of Mental IllnessOn the TakeOn Virtue EthicsOn What MattersOn What We Owe to Each OtherOne ChildOne Nation Under TherapyOne World NowOne World NowOur Bodies, Whose Property?Our Bodies, Whose Property?Our Daily MedsOur Faithfulness to the PastOur Posthuman FutureOut of EdenOut of Its MindOut of the ShadowsOverdosed AmericaOxford Handbook of Psychiatric EthicsOxford Textbook of Philosophy of PsychiatryPassionate DeliberationPatient Autonomy and the Ethics of ResponsibilityPC, M.D.Perfecting VirtuePersonal AutonomyPersonal Autonomy in SocietyPersonal Identity and EthicsPersonhood and Health CarePersons, Humanity, and the Definition of DeathPerspectives On Health And Human RightsPharmacracyPharmageddonPhilosophy and This Actual WorldPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of Technology: The Technological ConditionPhysician-Assisted DyingPicturing DisabilityPilgrim at Tinker CreekPlaying God?Playing God?Political EmotionsPornlandPowerful MedicinesPractical Autonomy and BioethicsPractical EthicsPractical Ethics for PsychologistsPractical RulesPragmatic BioethicsPragmatic BioethicsPragmatic NeuroethicsPraise and BlamePreferences and Well-BeingPrimates and PhilosophersPro-Life, Pro-ChoiceProcreation and ParenthoodProfits Before People?Progress in BioethicsProperty in the BodyProzac As a Way of LifeProzac on the CouchPsychiatric Aspects of Justification, Excuse and Mitigation in Anglo-American Criminal Law Psychiatric EthicsPsychiatry and EmpirePsychological Concepts and Biological PsychiatryPsychology and Consumer CulturePsychology and LawPsychotropic Drug Prescriber's Survival GuidePublic Health LawPublic Health Law and EthicsPublic PhilosophyPunishing the Mentally IllPunishmentPursuits of WisdomPutting Morality Back Into PoliticsPutting on VirtueQuality of Life and Human DifferenceRaceRadical HopeRadical VirtuesRape Is RapeRe-creating MedicineRe-Engineering Philosophy for Limited BeingsReason's GriefReasonably ViciousReckoning With HomelessnessReconceiving Medical EthicsRecovery from SchizophreniaRedefining RapeRedesigning HumansReducing the Stigma of Mental IllnessReflections On How We LiveReframing Disease ContextuallyRefusing CareRefuting Peter Singer's Ethical TheoryRelative JusticeRelativism and Human RightsReligion ExplainedReprogeneticsRescuing JeffreyResponsibilityResponsibility and PsychopathyResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility from the MarginsResponsible GeneticsRethinking CommodificationRethinking Informed Consent in BioethicsRethinking Mental Health and DisorderRethinking RapeReturn to ReasonRevolution in PsychologyRightsRights, Democracy, and Fulfillment in the Era of Identity PoliticsRisk and Luck in Medical EthicsRobert NozickRousseau and the Dilemmas of Modernity Rule of Law, Misrule of MenRunning on RitalinSatisficing and MaximizingSchizophrenia, Culture, and SubjectivityScience and EthicsScience in the Private InterestScience, Policy, and the Value-Free IdealScience, Seeds and CyborgsScratching the Surface of BioethicsSecular Philosophy and the Religious TemperamentSeeing the LightSelf-ConstitutionSelf-Made MadnessSelf-Trust and Reproductive AutonomySentimental RulesSex Fiends, Perverts, and PedophilesSex OffendersSexual DevianceSexual EthicsSexual PredatorsSexualized BrainsShaping Our SelvesShock TherapyShould I Medicate My Child?ShunnedSick to Death and Not Going to Take It AnymoreSickoSide EffectsSidewalk StoriesSister CitizenSkeptical FeminismSocial Inclusion of People with Mental IllnessSocial JusticeSociological Perspectives on the New GeneticsSome We Love, Some We Hate, Some We EatSovereign VirtueSpiral of EntrapmentSplit DecisionsSticks and StonesStories MatterSubjectivity and Being SomebodySuffering, Death, and IdentitySuicide ProhibitionSurgery JunkiesSurgically Shaping ChildrenTaking Morality SeriouslyTaming the Troublesome ChildTechnology and the Good Life?TestimonyText and Materials on International Human RightsThe Aims of Higher EducationThe Almost MoonThe Altruistic BrainThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Forensic PsychiatryThe Animal ManifestoThe Art of LivingThe Autonomy of MoralityThe Beloved SelfThe Best Things in LifeThe Big FixThe Bioethics ReaderThe Biology and Psychology of Moral AgencyThe Blackwell Guide to Medical EthicsThe Body SilentThe BondThe Book of LifeThe Burden of SympathyThe Cambridge Companion to Virtue EthicsThe Cambridge Companion to Virtue EthicsThe Cambridge Textbook of BioethicsThe Case against Assisted SuicideThe Case Against PerfectionThe Case Against PunishmentThe Case for PerfectionThe Case of Terri SchiavoThe Challenge of Human RightsThe Code for Global EthicsThe Colonization Of Psychic SpaceThe Commercialization of Intimate LifeThe Common ThreadThe Connected SelfThe Constitution of AgencyThe Creation of PsychopharmacologyThe Criminal BrainThe Decency WarsThe Difficult-to-Treat Psychiatric PatientThe Disability PendulumThe Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to ConfrontationThe Domain of ReasonsThe Double-Edged HelixThe Duty to ProtectThe Emotional Construction of MoralsThe End of Ethics in a Technological SocietyThe End of Stigma?The Essentials of New York Mental Health LawThe Ethical BrainThe Ethical Dimensions of the Biological and Health SciencesThe Ethics of BioethicsThe Ethics of ParenthoodThe Ethics of SightseeingThe Ethics of the FamilyThe Ethics of the LieThe Ethics of TransplantsThe Ethics ToolkitThe Evolution of Mental Health LawThe Evolution of MoralityThe FamilyThe Fat Studies ReaderThe Forgiveness ProjectThe Form of Practical KnowledgeThe Fountain of YouthThe Freedom ParadoxThe Future of Assisted Suicide and EuthanasiaThe Future of Human NatureThe Good BookThe Good LifeThe Great BetrayalThe Handbook of Disability StudiesThe Healing VirtuesThe High Price of MaterialismThe History of Human RightsThe HorizonThe Idea of JusticeThe Ideal of NatureThe Illusion of Freedom and EqualityThe Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Importance of Being UnderstoodThe Insanity OffenseThe Joy of SecularismThe Language PoliceThe Last Normal ChildThe Last UtopiaThe Limits of MedicineThe LobotomistThe Love CureThe Lucifer EffectThe Manual of EpictetusThe Mark of ShameThe Meaning of NiceThe Medicalization of SocietyThe Merck DruggernautThe Mind Has MountainsThe Modern Art of DyingThe Modern SavageThe Moral ArcThe Moral BrainThe Moral Demands of MemoryThe Moral FoolThe Moral MindThe Moral Psychology HandbookThe Moral, Social, and Commercial Imperatives of Genetic Testing and ScreeningThe Most Good You Can DoThe Myth of ChoiceThe Myth of the Moral BrainThe Nature of NormativityThe New Disability HistoryThe New Genetic MedicineThe New Religious IntoleranceThe Offensive InternetThe Origins of FairnessThe Oxford Handbook of Animal EthicsThe Oxford Handbook of Ethics at the End of LifeThe Perfect BabyThe Philosophy of NeedThe Philosophy of PornographyThe Philosophy of PsychiatryThe Politics Of LustThe Portable Ethicist for Mental Health Professionals The Power of Religion in the Public SphereThe Price of PerfectionThe Price of TruthThe Problem of PunishmentThe Prosthetic ImpulseThe Psychology of Good and EvilThe Psychology of Good and EvilThe PsychopathThe Purity MythThe Pursuit of PerfectionThe Relevance of Philosophy to LifeThe Right Road to Radical FreedomThe Right to Be ParentsThe Righteous MindThe Root of All EvilThe Rules of InsanityThe Second SexismThe Second-Person StandpointThe Silent World of Doctor and PatientThe Sleep of ReasonThe Social Psychology of Good and EvilThe Social Psychology of MoralityThe Social Psychology of MoralityThe Speed of DarkThe Stem Cell ControversyThe Stem Cell ControversyThe Story of Cruel and UnusualThe Story WithinThe Stubborn System of Moral ResponsibilityThe Suicide TouristThe Terrible GiftThe Theory of OptionsThe Therapy of DesireThe Trauma of Psychological TortureThe Trauma of Psychological TortureThe Triple HelixThe Trolley Problem MysteriesThe Trouble with DiversityThe Truth About the Drug CompaniesThe Ugly LawsThe Varieties of Religious ExperienceThe Virtues of HappinessThe Virtuous Life in Greek EthicsThe Virtuous PsychiatristThe Voice of Breast Cancer in Medicine and BioethicsThe War Against BoysThe War for Children's MindsThe Whole ChildThe Woman RacketThe Worldwide Practice of TortureTherapy with ChildrenThieves of VirtueThree Generations, No ImbecilesTimes of Triumph, Times of DoubtTolerance Among The VirtuesTolerance and the Ethical LifeTolerationToxic PsychiatryTrauma, Truth and ReconciliationTreatment Kind and FairTrusting on the EdgeTry to RememberUltimate JudgementUnborn in the USA: Inside the War on AbortionUndermining ScienceUnderstanding AbortionUnderstanding CloningUnderstanding EmotionsUnderstanding EvilUnderstanding Moral ObligationUnderstanding Physician-Pharmaceutical Industry InteractionsUnderstanding TerrorismUnderstanding the GenomeUnderstanding the Stigma of Mental IllnessUnderstanding Treatment Without ConsentUnhingedUnprincipled VirtueUnsanctifying Human Life: Essays on EthicsUnspeakable Acts, Ordinary PeopleUp in FlamesUpheavals of ThoughtUsers and Abusers of PsychiatryValue-Free Science?Values and Psychiatric DiagnosisValues in ConflictVegetarianismViolence and Mental DisorderVirtue EthicsVirtue, Rules, and JusticeVirtue, Vice, and PersonalityVirtues and Their VicesWar Against the WeakWar, Torture and TerrorismWarrior's DishonourWeaknessWelfare and Rational CareWhat Genes Can't DoWhat Have We DoneWhat Is a Human?What Is Good and WhyWhat Is Good and WhyWhat Is the Good Life?What Price Better Health?What Should I Do?What We Owe to Each OtherWhat Would Aristotle Do?What's Good on TVWhat's Normal?What's Wrong with Children's RightsWhat's Wrong with Homosexuality?What's Wrong With Morality?When Is Discrimination Wrong?Who Holds the Moral High Ground?Who Owns YouWho Qualifies for Rights?Whose America?Whose View of Life?Why Animals MatterWhy Animals MatterWhy I Burned My Book and Other Essays on DisabilityWhy Not Kill Them All?Why Punish? How Much?Why Some Things Should Not Be for SaleWisdom, Intuition and EthicsWithout ConscienceWomen and Borderline Personality DisorderWomen and MadnessWondergenesWould You Kill the Fat Man?Wrestling with Behavioral GeneticsWriting About PatientsYou Must Be DreamingYour Genetic DestinyYour Inner FishYouth Offending and Youth Justice Yuck!
Philip Kitcher's Life After Faith: The Case for Secular Humanism is composed of five lectures Kitcher gave as part of The Dwight Harrington Terry Foundation Lectures on Religion in the Light of Science and Philosophy. Given his stature as a philosopher of science who has also addressed ethical and religious issues in his recent work, Kitcher is an obvious choice for this lecture series.
As he explains in the Preface, Life After Faith is an extended argument to show that "a thoroughly secular perspective can fulfill many of the important functions religion, as its best, has discharged" (xiii). His tone throughout is moderate, even mild in some respects. This is motivated by a desire to counteract the "now dominant atheist idea that religion is noxious rubbish to be buried as deeply, as thoroughly, and as quickly as possible" (xii). In other words, this book is not a philosophically sophisticated version of Religulous, and not to be lumped together with the writings of the late Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. In this regard, Kitcher dubs his approach, "soft atheism."
The lectures that compose Life After Faith begin with an exposition of "secularist doubt." For Kitcher believes that secularism begins with doubt -- about the fanciful and often contradictory claims made by the major world religions. Then Kitcher addresses, in successive chapters, a) how secular humanism can provide an adequate alternative basis for values; b) the more refined religious perspectives that do not succumb to the numerous problems facing fundamentalist and traditionalist religious views; and c) the challenges of mortality and meaning for secularists. The book concludes with a final chapter on "Depth and Depravity." Here Kitcher responds to Charles Taylor's assertion that secular lives are "flattened," lacking the depth of a religious life that has a (conscious) connection to "the Transcendent." Kitcher also considers whether secular humanism has the resources necessary to provide a satisfactory account of the depths of human evil.
In Kitcher's recent work, The Ethical Project, he provides an evolutionary account of ethical life. With few exceptions, Life After Faith is not an extension of this project to religious life. Rather it reads much more like standard fare in contemporary philosophy of religion, but with elaboration and defense of secular humanism.
One of the main virtues of Life After Faith, if not its primary one, is the respect and patience with which Kitcher treats religion and religious believers. Apparently this is a product not only of his academic training, where giving the opposing argument its best shot is a staple of good philosophy. In addition, Kitcher has long admired the aesthetics of church music (high church music, that is, not southern gospel), and he recognizes that many people find community, their only form of community in some cases, in religious contexts. He also is very respectful of religious literature -- perhaps to the point of losing sight of its darker side at times. This is soft atheism, indeed.
Make no mistake about it, however. Kitcher minces no words when it comes to the numerous problems that attend believers' claims to religious knowledge. He argues convincingly, albeit not in any groundbreaking way, that religious experience is not in any respect a likely conduit for "correct" beliefs. The wild and contradictory diversity of metaphysical claims that proponents of the major world religions put forward are a testament to this fact.
Along these lines, Kitcher also seizes on the implications of what Richard Rorty would have called the recognition of the contingency of religious beliefs. For instance, suppose a person is raised in a culture where all the religions on offer (if there is more than one) are monotheistic. It is highly likely that if such a person becomes a religious believer of any sort, he will be a monotheist. However, as Kitcher puts it, "if by some accident of early childhood, had he been transported to some distant culture, brought up among aboriginal Australians, for example, he would now affirm a radically different set of doctrines … with the same deep conviction and as a result of the same types of processes that characterize his actual beliefs" (8). While this point may not be relevant to assessing the truth of a person's religious convictions, it surely undermines any religious epistemology that puts much stock in the subjective certainties that believers of all sorts feel about their own beliefs.
Here Kitcher takes the opportunity to tweak one of the most influential Christian philosophers of our time, Alvin Plantinga. Plantinga posits a "sensu divinitatis" as a crucial part of his epistemology of religious belief. According to Plantinga, when this sense is functioning properly in a person, she will come to believe in a god just like or not too unlike Plantinga's Calvinist deity. So much for the supposed contingency of religious beliefs. Kitcher calls this view "fruitless" and "a fig-leaf covering for dogmatism" (8).
(I must admit that I found this amusing. I guess my sensu, like Kitcher's, isn't functioning properly.)
Thus, as Kitcher observes, no matter what sort of sophisticated name we might give it, religious experience cannot serve as an independent source of justification for religious beliefs, as it itself depends on the specific (and contingent) religious traditions it is said to support. He puts the point this way: "The conclusions often taken to be grounded in religious experience are thoroughly soaked in the brew of doctrines prevalent in the surrounding society and typically passed on in early enculturation—an important fact neglected by individualistically oriented religious (usually Christian) epistemologists in their attempts to validate 'basic religious knowledge'" (13).
But this is not news to many philosophers. What about Kitcher's case for secular humanism? After all, it's life after faith he wishes to commend, not just reasons for rejecting or being skeptical of a life of faith.
Unfortunately, because Kitcher is in almost constant conversation and debate with imaginary believers with varying degrees of sophistication, he never quite unwinds his secularism in a way that breaks new ground or that is visionary. In fact, I unwillingly found myself quite nonplussed with Kitcher's discussion. It even seems campy at times. More on this below.
Let's start with the good news (no pun intended). Kitcher easily -- but still painstakingly -- dispenses with the old, stale, and insulting chestnut that we need religion in order to take ethics seriously, or to give it the proper gravity. As one would expect, as an alternative he offers a broadly evolutionary framework for ethics. In my view, his account does much more justice to the concrete, face-to-face, organic origins of values than theistic and even other secular ethical perspectives. Kitcher takes our evolutionary history seriously; he does not forget or ignore, as so many theologians and other philosophers have, that we are animals struggling to survive, not minds who happen to be attached for the moment to bodies.
Kitcher also argues compellingly that any sort of "refined religion" that seeks to leave behind the lavish metaphysical claims of its founding tradition offers no advantage whatsoever over its secular humanist counterpart. In other words, if you want the so-called unique consolations of religious belief, you must swallow the wildly implausible and "noxious" parts to get them. This view has the virtue of explaining why the vast majority of believers do not subscribe to some version of "refined religion." This is at best a resting place -- albeit a much nicer and more tolerable one -- for the weary ex-fundamentalist or traditionalist who is not ready to journey forward to an entirely secular form of existence.
In the penultimate chapter, Kitcher usefully explicates for a wider audience the reasons many philosophers have concluded that immortality would not be a good thing. He also shows why a vague afterlife, in which we shed most things that make us human, is an extremely tepid consolation for the loss - here and now -- of loved ones. He concludes that "the genuine problem of death" is premature death, and it's a problem we all face.
Since I find it absurd to think that we need religious perspectives in order to comprehend fully the depths of human existence and human depravity, Kitcher's final chapter strikes me as far too apologetic and as a wasted opportunity.
Many of the grossest evils of human history have been (and continue to be) inspired by religious beliefs. Furthermore, for every religiously inspired luminary such as Martin Luther King, Jr., there are thousands more whose beliefs motivate or rest easy with their opposition to basic human rights and dignity for all people. Why did it take so long, for instance, for marriage equality to come about in the United States? What accounts for the hostility to contraception in countries where it could save many lives and put a halt to the spread of HIV/AIDS? Secularists need not offer any sort of apology here. Kitcher could have used the opportunity for a much fuller elaboration of his own secularist view of evil, instead of accounting for the absence of a Jesus or Ghandi in the secularist canon, as he does.
Now for the bad news. I'm certain I had a very different experience growing up in a southern Pentecostal church than Kitcher's upbringing in a high church atmosphere. I'm also certain that "secular humanism" is a very pejorative term to just about every evangelical and fundamentalist I've ever known or read. So I think it's a terrible idea to saddle non-religious people with this nomenclature and to lump all of us together as if there is this belief system called "secular humanism" we all subscribe to. At certain points, I don't identify at all with the concerns and beliefs that Kitcher seems to think are part of the essence of secular humanism.
And that's just it: there is no Platonic form of religion, as Kitcher recognizes, and likewise there is no 'nature' of secular humanism to be explicated and defended, so that secularists can live with the philosophical foundations they would otherwise lack. There are religions and religious believers, and there are people who either left these wildly divergent forms of existence behind or who never embodied them in the first place. Of course, there are millions of hybrids too. When will philosophers who long ago abandoned Platonism stop this nonsense of reducing complex and diverse beliefs and forms of life to competing isms? There is no secular humanist team opposing the religionist team, where whoever has the best arguments wins the game. At least not in any place except the minds of philosophers, theologians, apologists, and preachers who talk in this violently reductive way because they must in order to continue playing this game.
Early on Kitcher states: "If secular humanism is to be lived, and to be understood as a fully rewarding way for human beings to live, the humanist perspective requires positive elaboration" (1). Really? "The" humanist perspective can't even be lived until a philosopher elaborates it for us? Apologies to all of you who think you have been living out Kitcher's form of humanism (or worse, some other mutant form), but without proper rational grounding and philosophical elaboration.
As Kitcher explicates it, "secular humanism" is essentially reactive. It begins with doubt, as a response to religious belief. This too is deeply problematic. Why must a non-religious way of life necessarily be construed this way? There are not a few secularists who will not find their own experience represented here, where Kitcher locates the very heart of secular humanism. He would do well to brush up on Jennifer Michael Hecht's Doubt: A History, where he will find that not only in this century but throughout history there are many examples of non-religious people whose humanism comes (or came) quite naturally, not originally as a reaction to the religions of their time and place. No doubt: if you are a non-religious person, probably you've encountered some sort of religious way of life at some point and rejected it. But this doesn't make non-religious ways of life necessarily reactive or founded on doubt.
In the same apologetic mode, Kitcher wonders at one point what use Darwin has at a funeral (96). Apparently he's not been to many Pentecostal or evangelical funerals. In my own experience, Darwin is extremely helpful in these contexts because he reminds us that there is actually a dead body, a deceased animal in the coffin. This is vastly preferable to the incredible kind of happy talk I've often heard at funerals, which lacks reality and represents a serious failure to recognize what has actually occurred.
I'll conclude with the camp. If you read contemporary analytic philosophy very long at all, eventually you will run across what I will call here a "Sherlock" moment. This is a passage where a philosopher strains and works very hard to say something that is absolutely banal. Kitcher has some distracting Sherlock moments in this book.
For example, on the same page in which he refers to chemists as "the chemical community," he also reminds us: "Phlogiston never existed" (80). Later he notes: "the losses of the afflicted are real" (135).
In the section on values, Kitcher clarifies that some ethical questions may lack determinate answers (46). May? At another point, Kitcher notes: "A dour human existence, in which worthy goals were set, pursued with perseverance, and often achieved, without any sense of happy fulfillment or exhilaration, would be lacking an important dimension" (128). He also begins a major section in his discussion of meaning this way: "A proposal: human lives sometimes attain meaning through individuals' developing conceptions of who they are and what matters to their existences, through their pursuit of the goals endorsed by those conceptions, and by some degree of success in attaining them" (101). Don't go too far out on that limb, Professor Kitcher!
Finally, and rather ironically, in his discussion of "refined religion," Kitcher is at pains to explain how fiction, which includes many statements about fictitious characters, could somehow still be true. His example is the character of Sherlock Holmes. He states: "'Sherlock Holmes lived in Baker Street' is factually false, since 'Sherlock Holmes' picks out nothing in the world, and there is thus no pertinent candidate for possessing the property of having lived in Baker Street." Yet we are tempted to say that the sentence is true "in some sense." Kitcher's solution? "Our world once contained an author, Conan Doyle, who produced a series of books. Those books endorse particular sentences in which the name 'Sherlock Holmes' occurs." So, fictional truth, he argues, is not "correspondence to some mysterious reality." Rather it is "a matter of endorsement" (78-79). Whew.
Let me conclude with my own Sherlock moment. In this context, surely there are much more important matters to discuss. Although I greatly admire Philip Kitcher and the work he has done heretofore, this is far from his best work.
© 2015 Brad Frazier
Brad Frazier, Dept of Philosophy, Wells College