segunda-feira, 17 de fevereiro de 2014

A religião de Dworkin

Micheal Rosen (Harvard) publicou um ensaio na The Nation no qual faz um balanço da carreira de Dworkin a partir de sua última obra, Religion Without God. (o livro já foi matéria no nosso blog). Rosen procura entender a relação entre a (suposta) discussão sobre teologia e uma das teses centrais de sua obra, a objetividade dos valores morais. Segundo Rosen, contrariando as tendências naturalistas da filosofia norte-americana contemporânea, Dworkin corou sua carreira com uma reapresentação forte - porém honesta - das premissas de sua filosofia (agradeço a Roberto Merrill pela matéria!). 


I think Dworkin took something like Rorty’s position when he published Taking Rights Seriouslyin 1977. But thirty-six years later, by the time of Religion Without God, he held a different and far stronger view: human beings do indeed have a special value that can’t be overridden (religious thinkers commonly call it “human dignity”), though not because it comes from God. To the contrary, values exist independently of God.
If morality were just a matter of God’s will, then presumably whatever God willed would be good for that reason and no more. But if God is indeed just, it must be possible for human beings to recognize independently why his commands are good. Of course, goodness is essential to God, so he could not conceivably will anything that was not good—but, still, it is not his willing something that makes it good. As Seneca once wrote, “I do not obey God; I agree with him.” So, Dworkin argues, any reasonable religion must acknowledge the priority of value over the will of the Deity. But in that case, the supernatural narrative of creation, revelation and prophecy that surrounds the moral teachings of religion is dispensable.
Dworkin still wants to call his attitude “religious” because, although he does not believe in the existence of God, he “accepts the full, independent reality of value” and hence rejects the naturalistic view that nothing is real except what is revealed by the natural sciences or psychology.
Yet if values exist as “fully independent,” how can we have access to them? As Dworkin admits, there are no experiments we can conduct to confirm their existence. Dignity—the “God particle” that sustains the existence of human rights—will not be detected by any scientist. On the contrary, the realm of value is “self-certifying,” so the only evidence for the existence of values is the truth of the things that we say about them. And the evidence for that truth is what, exactly—that we agree about values? But disagreement about values is where we came in. Even if we accept that we carry within ourselves an inner kernel of transcendental value, would it give us a way of telling where the claims of the collective end and the prerogatives of the individual begin?
Dworkin is always wonderfully clear and honest about what is involved in his position—it is part of what makes his book such a pleasure to read—and he concludes his discussion of the nature of value by explaining its limitations:
I will not have convinced some of you. You will think that if all we can do to defend value judgments is appeal to other value judgments, and then finally to declare faith in the whole set of judgments, then our claims to objective truth are just whistles in the dark. But this challenge, however familiar, is not an argument against the religious worldview. It is only a rejection of that worldview. It denies the basic tenets of the religious attitude: it produces, at best, a standoff. You just do not have the religious point of view.
This expresses precisely my own reaction. I cannot see that describing the target of our disagreements about value as existing in a fully independent, objective realm is anything more than religion lite: the religious idea of eternal goodness without the miraculous elements of omnipotent divine will and personal immortality. Yet I am at one with Dworkin in thinking that even a fully secular individual should contemplate the universe not just with curiosity and wonder but with reverence and gratitude. Still, behind me I hear a voice—a Nietzschean one, perhaps—that tells me that what Dworkin and I are looking at is no more than a penumbra, the few rays that remain in the sky after the sun of revealed religion has set. If that is so, then the coming night may be dark indeed.