Matthew Noah Smith

Matthew Noah Smith is an associate professor in the department of philosophy at The University of Leeds. He previously taught at Yale University. His research focuses on moral and political philosophy.

Posts by Matthew Noah Smith:

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Disenchantment and the mind-dependence of the moral

At the core of contemporary secularism is the denial of the existence of deities and the supernatural. There is only the natural, as described by our best sciences. This ‘disenchantment’ of the world seems to leave no place for value, and this exclusion of value from the world is, Akeel Bilgrami argues in his essay “What is Enchantment?” one of the central and damning failures of contemporary secularism.

How does secularism crowd values out of our picture of the world?  If we accept a secularist metaphysics, then a necessary condition for the existence of values is that they can be accommodated by our best sciences. But our best sciences do not seem to have any room for values. Values make demands on human beings as actors—for instance, we ought to pursue the good, we ought to avoid the bad, and so on—but science describes no such free-standing “oughts.”

Read the rest of Disenchantment and the mind-dependence of the moral.