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May 31 2012

On the Interplay of Values and Goals

James has his response to Monday’s post up.

In general, I think this is a wise strategy to pursue. Clearly, the ‘market’ for intense moral communities dedicated to Humanist values is smaller than the ‘market’ for more loosely organized non-believers’ groups. As numerous charity and service drives organized by the movement demonstrate, it is possible, sometimes, to get many atheist groups from all over the country to join together to take action around a particular issue – the Light the Night initiative headed by Todd Stiefel is a great example of such a coalition, which people can get involved in now.

Predictably, though, I don’t think this analysis is quite accurate, and I don’t feel this strategy is enough on its own to achieve what we need to achieve as a movement. First, I want to draw a distinction between “goals” and “values”. While an organizational goal might be something concrete, like some target to be achieved regarding service projects, or a piece of legislation to be passed, a value is a broader, higher-level commitment – reason is a Humanist value, for instance.

Go read the whole thing.

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