I’ve recently be challenged to be a morally responsible sceptic and to be honest I think it’s an important thing for everyone to consider.
For starters, I think our society (Western society at least) is pervaded by irresponsible disbelief. What I mean by this is that people generally have a readiness to disbelieve without inquiry, knowledge or responsibility. Not just in relation to religion but to anything really. Just as believing has responsibility, so too does disbelieving. And in this light, disbelief has become a virtue, the doubter is seen as smarter than the believer. We’ve become complacent, unbelief no longer has to justify itself as belief does.
So I want to challenge you to act on the responsibility to remove a lack of information. In other words, we are morally responsible for our beliefs, and if you are not taking this responsibility seriously, and thus also not rationally, you don’t actually seek true beliefs. It is always wrong to believe on insufficient evidence. So, I took some advice from Willard Dallas who is a professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California. Here is how he thinks that one can be a morally responsible sceptic in any area:
- Assume the burden of truth for your disbelief.
- “Much, if not most, of the unbelief (the larger beliefs of life or the nature of truth itself), found in the world today is amorally reprehensible faith posing as a scientific world view or something of that sort, a belief not based on thorough examination of the nature of the belief and it’s rational grounds.”
Willard challenges the truth even in our own intellectual systems. Higher education, i.e. universities, that are constantly striving to obtain life truths, themselves can’t construct a coherent reality of truth. (Truth being a representation of what really is). This cultural blindspot has allowed doubt to go unjustified.
I’m going to define beliefs as a readiness to act as if something were so. Therefore, would not your life be guided by these frameworks of belief/disbelief? I’m assuming that disbelief in something, is belief in something else.
Essentially, and ideally, we would only have true beliefs. Moral responsibility calls us to be as rational as possible in reference to our beliefs. We should do everything in our power to guarantee the highest likelihood that they are true. To be morally responsible is to be rational in our conduct of life.
So, my challenge to you is to look at what frameworks you use to construct your life and assume the responsibility to remove a lack of information.