„The absolute morality that the religious person might profess would include what, stoning people for adultery, death for apostasy, punishment for breaking the Sabbath; these are all things which are religiously based absolute moralities. I don’t think I want an absolute morality. I think I want a morality that is thought-out, reasoned, argued, discussed—based upon, almost say—intelligent design. Can we not design our society which has the sort of morality, the sort of society we want to live in?“

—  Richard Dawkins, Dawkins on Q&A (), replying to a Muslim man who asked about 'absolute morality'. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mu7AQTs_y5A
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Richard Dawkins photo

„The absolute morality that a religious person might profess would include what, stoning people for adultery, death for apostasy, punishment for breaking the Sabbath. These are all things which are religiously based absolute moralities. I don’t think I want an absolute morality. I think I want a morality that is thought out, reasoned, argued, discussed and based upon, I’d almost say, intelligent design [pun intended]. Can we not design our society, which has the sort of morality, the sort of society that we want to live in – if you actually look at the moralities that are accepted among modern people, among 21st century people, we don’t believe in slavery anymore. We believe in equality of women. We believe in being gentle. We believe in being kind to animals. These are all things which are entirely recent. They have very little basis in Biblical or Quranic scripture. They are things that have developed over historical time through a consensus of reasoning, of sober discussion, argument, legal theory, political and moral philosophy. These do not come from religion. To the extent that you can find the good bits in religious scriptures, you have to cherry pick. You search your way through the Bible or the Quran and you find the occasional verse that is an acceptable profession of morality and you say, ‘Look at that. That’s religion,’ and you leave out all the horrible bits and you say, ‘Oh, we don’t believe that anymore. We’ve grown out of that.’ Well, of course we’ve grown out it. We’ve grown out of it because of secular moral philosophy and rational discussion.“

—  Richard Dawkins English ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author 1941
Richard Dawkins-George Pell Q&A (2012)

Friedrich Hayek photo

„Our basic problem is that we have three levels, I would say, of moral beliefs. We have the first instance, our intuitive moral feelings which are adapted to the small, person-to-person society where we act for people whom we know and are served by people whom we know. Then, we have a society governed by moral traditions which, unlike what modern rationalists believe, are not intellectual discoveries of men who designed them, but as a result of a persons, which I now prefer to describe as term of 'group selection.' Those groups who had accidentally developed such as the tradition of private property and the family who did succeed, but never understood this. So we owe our present extended order of human cooperation very largely to a moral tradition which the intellectual does not approve of, because it has never been intellectually designed and it has to compete with a third level of moral beliefs, those which the morals which the intellectuals designed in the hope that they can better satisfy man's instincts than the traditional morals to do. And we live in a world where three moral traditions are in constant conflict, the innate ones, the traditional ones, and the intellectually designed ones, and ultimately, all our political conflicts of this time can be reduced as affected by a conflict between free moral tradition of a different nature, not only of different content.“

—  Friedrich Hayek Austrian and British economist and Nobel Prize for Economics laureate 1899 - 1992
in 1985 interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11AXDT5824Y with John O'Sullivan

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Donald Judd photo

„I think most of the art now is involved with a denial of any kind of absolute morality, or general morality.“

—  Donald Judd artist 1928 - 1994
Context: I think most of the art now is involved with a denial of any kind of absolute morality, or general morality. I think most of us in one way or another are involved in ideas of a fairly loose world, however it's expressed, whether obviously as in Chamberlain or just accidentally, or, oh, like Newman.

Richard Dawkins photo

„I agree that it's very difficult to come to an absolute definition of what's moral and what is not. We are on our own, without a god, and we have to get together, sit down together and decide what kind of society do we want to live in. Do we want to live in a society where people steal, where people kill, where people don't pull their weight paying their taxes, doing that kind of thing? Do we want to live in a kind of society where everybody is out for themselves in a dog-eat-dog world? And we decide in conclave together that that's not the kind of world in which we want to live. It's difficult. There is no absolute reason why we should believe that that's true - it's a moral decision which we take as individuals - and we take it collectively as a collection of individuals. If you want to get that sort of value system from religion I want you to ask yourself - whereabouts in religion do you get it? Which religion do you get it from? They're all different. If you get it from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition then I beg you - don't get it from your holy book! Because the morality you will get from reading your holy book is hideous. Don't get it from your holy book. Don't get it from sucking up to your god. Don't get it from saying “oh, I'm terrified of going to hell so I'd better be good” - that's a very ignoble reason to be good. Instead - be good for good reasons. Be good for the reason that's you've decided together with other people the society we want to live in: a decent humane society. Not one based on absolutism, not one based on holy books and not one based on sucking up to.. looking over your shoulder to the divine spy camera in the sky.“

—  Richard Dawkins English ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author 1941
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roFdPHdhgKQ&t=59m29s

Daniel Dennett photo

„I think religion for many people is some sort of moral viagra.“

—  Daniel Dennett American philosopher 1942
"Atheism Tapes, part 6", BBC TV documentation of Jonathan Miller, produced by Richard Denton, recorded 2003, broadcast 2004

James A. Michener photo

„I am a humanist because I think humanity can, with constant moral guidance, create reasonably decent societies.“

—  James A. Michener American author 1907 - 1997
Context: I am a humanist because I think humanity can, with constant moral guidance, create reasonably decent societies. I think that young people who want to understand the world can profit from the works of Plato and Socrates, the behaviour of the three Thomases, Aquinas, More and Jefferson — the austere analyses of Immanuel Kant and the political leadership of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.

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Silvio Berlusconi photo

„I'm a man of honour, a truthful person, a gentleman of absolute morality.“

—  Silvio Berlusconi Italian politician 1936
As quoted in "La Repubblica" (13 July 2003)

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Kenneth Minogue photo

„However ignorant a person may be, he or she can always moralize. And it is the propensity to moralize that takes up most of the space for public discussion in contemporary society.“

—  Kenneth Minogue Australian political theorist 1930 - 2013
Context: For it is a conspicuous feature of democracy, as it evolves from generation to generation, that it leads people increasingly to take up public positions on the private affairs of others. Wherever people discover that money is being spent, either privately or by public officials, they commonly develop opinions on how it ought to be spent. In a state increasingly managed right down to small details of conduct, each person thus becomes his own fantasy despot, disposing of others and their resources as he or she thinks desirable. And this tendency itself results from another feature of the moral revolution. Democracy demands, or at least seems to demand, that its subjects should have opinions on most matters of public discussion. But public policy is a complicated matter and few intelligent comments can be made without a great deal of time being spent on the detail. On the other hand, every public policy may be judged in terms of its desirability. However ignorant a person may be, he or she can always moralize. And it is the propensity to moralize that takes up most of the space for public discussion in contemporary society. pp. 214-215

Bill Gates photo

„The moral systems of religion, I think, are superimportant. We've raised our kids in a religious way; they've gone to the Catholic church that Melinda goes to and I participate in. I've been very lucky, and therefore I owe it to try and reduce the inequity in the world. And that's kind of a religious belief. I mean, it's at least a moral belief.“

—  Bill Gates American business magnate and philanthropist 1955
Response when he was asked whether he believed in God, at his interview with the Rolling Stone Magazine http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/bill-gates-the-rolling-stone-interview-20140313#ixzz367A061i0. March 27, 2014.

Robert A. Heinlein photo

„I do not think anyone can define "behavior that tends toward extinction" as being "moral" without stretching the word "moral" all out of shape.“

—  Robert A. Heinlein American science fiction author 1907 - 1988
Context: I now define "moral behavior" as "behavior that tends toward survival." I won't argue with philosophers or theologians who choose to use the word "moral" to mean something else, but I do not think anyone can define "behavior that tends toward extinction" as being "moral" without stretching the word "moral" all out of shape.

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