John E. Hare
- in Kant and the New Philosophy of Religion (Indiana University Press: 2006)
- Suppose you have two friends, James and Joanna, who are becoming increasingly fond of each other. At some point you realize that in their hearts they both have made a commitment to spending the rest of their lives together. But James has not yet admitted this to himself, or declared himself to Joanna. What is holding him back is a certain exaggerated trust in his own rationality, preventing him from acknowledging the validity of any impulse in himself he cannot completely understand. You are sure that once he comes to see how misplaced this trust is, he will realize that he has in fact been committed to a life with Joanna for some time and this commitment has been controlling the way he already lives his life and his decisions about how to spend his time and devote his energies. Now does James believe he is going to get married to Joanna? You are not clear what to say. If you ask him to profess such a belief, he will probably say he does not know, one way or the other. But his life-choices indicate the condition of his heart, and in that sense he does already have the belief. Another thing you do not know is how things are actually going to turn out for James. It all depends on which of the two dispositions prevails, his love for Joanna or his pride in his intellect.
- pp. 63-64
“Ethics and Religion: Two Kantian Arguments” (2011)
- in Philosophical Investigations, vol. 34, no. 2 (April 2011)
- It is striking that the idea of a moral being without ordinary human limitations as the source of the moral demand survived in 20th century moral philosophy even in theories that do not posit the existence of such a being. ... In R. B. Brandt’s Ethical Theory, there is a position for an ideal observer. In R. M. Hare, there is an archangel, with full command of the facts and of logic. In John Rawls, there is the person behind the veil of ignorance, who does not know what position she occupies in the situation for which she is prescribing. In all these last three cases, there is the postulation, as the source of the moral demand, of a being who is without ordinary human limitations, and it is plausible to suggest that these are all survivals of a worldview in which it was God who played this role.
- pp. 158-159
- To the extent that we are free we are like God, who has no need of an idea of a God over Godself or of an incentive other than the moral law itself. But to the extent that we are also natural beings, we desire our own happiness in everything else that we desire, and we need the practical postulate of God to bring that happiness together with morality.
- p. 165
“Evolutionary Theory and Theological Ethics” (2012)
- in Studies in Christian Ethics, vol. 25, no. 2 (2012)
- It is basically a bad idea to take some area of human thought and experience that has been the locus of careful analyses and subtle distinctions for centuries, and start again, as it were, from scratch. What in fact happens when this is done is that some ideas from that tradition re-emerge, but are isolated from the context in which they were embedded in the preceding conversation.
- p. 245
- The idea of obligation is rationally unstable without the accompanying idea of a sufficiently good and powerful obligator to give the command and sustain the order in which the command is observed.
- p. 250
- For Kant, the predisposition to good (like Calvin’s ‘seed of goodness’) is in one way more fundamental to us than the overlying propensity to evil, and in one way it is less fundamental. The predisposition to good is more fundamental because it is essential to us; we cannot lose it without ceasing to be human. The propensity to evil is in that way less fundamental, because we can lose it, and indeed we should lose it, without ceasing to be human. On the other hand, the propensity to evil is in a different way more fundamental. It is our root maxim when we are born.
- p. 251