20 April, 2007

Another conservative thinker contra D'Souza

I've neglected some of my regular blog readings for awhile, but when I caught up on Darwinian Conservatism, I note that Prof. Larry Arnhart echoed the concerns I've expressed earlier regarding Dinesh D'Souza's recent book and his general turn towards the neo/theo-conservative lunacy of Ann Coulter and her disgusting ilk. An interesting quote below, but please do read the full article at the link.
D'Sousa argues that "conservatives must move closer to the traditional Muslims" (287). His fundamental claim is that moral debate today is divided sharply between two positions. On the one side, conservatives believe in a religious morality as rooted in "an external moral order" and "external commands." On the other side, liberals believe in a secular morality of the inner self, "the morality of self-fulfillment" (18-20). The liberals' secular morality of self-fulfillment promotes moral corruption through hedonistic self-indulgence and materialism. Traditional Muslims believe that this liberal morality will destroy their religion and their way of life. And American conservatives, D'Sousa insists, should admit that they are right. America really is morally corrupt insofar as liberal morality has prevailed in American life. American conservatives should join with fundamentalist Muslims in fighting against the corruption of such secular morality.

I would say, however, that D'Sousa has created a false dilemma in assuming that our choice is between a religious morality of theocracy and a secular morality of hedonism. Darwinian conservatism respects religious belief insofar as it supports our natural moral sense. But that natural morality stands on its own--as rooted in human nature--regardless of our religious beliefs. We do not have to choose between a morality of "external commands" or a morality of "the inner self." We can recognize traditional morality as founded in our evolved human nature.

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