Chapter

Secularism's Practical Meaning

John Finnis

in Religion and Public Reasons

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199580095
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729416 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580095.003.0004
Secularism's Practical Meaning

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This chapter distinguishes various types of secularization from secularism and commends Plato's analysis of secularism's main forms. An argument to the existence of God from the data of practical reason is sketched, and an idea of natural religion is identified along with its inevitable disengagement from its historic matrix, paganism. Secularized (secularist) Christian thought is critiqued, along with materialist misconstruals of human dignity, philosophical denials of causality as a block against arguments for divine causality, judicial denials of substantive values and the attempts to rationalize and extend those denials in the 1996 ‘Philosophers' Brief’ of Dworkin, Rawls, Nagel, and others for euthanasia or assisted suicide, and finally consequentialism (attractive to secularists for more than one kind of reason). An adequate understanding of the hope offered by authentic revelation is needed for an adequate response to secularism.

Keywords: secularization; secularism; practical reason; existence of God; Dworkin; Rawls; Philosophers' Brief; consequentialism; materialism; human dignity

Chapter.  10998 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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