The James Wilson Foundation on Natural Rights and the American Founding

The Magical World of “Climate Change”: Prof. Hadley Arkes in The Catholic Thing

by James Wilson Institute on December 16, 2020

In his latest article for The Catholic Thing, JWI Founder and Director Prof. Hadley Arkes writes about the Left’s obsession with climate change. Climate change gives the Left a “moral” code, a kind of pseudo-religion, without the reasoning that animates true religion. Regardless of the merits of the scientific arguments, proponents of climate change have developed a conviction that the problem is so dire that it would be morally wrong to even question proposed solutions. This conviction takes its strength from the sense that the Left has that they are protecting potential future generations. As the Left has increasingly rejected moral truths, climate change has given them the sense of being “righteous” without the entanglements of morality.

Some excerpts from this article:

The passion that animates the partisans in this cause has approached a level of unblinking certitude that runs beyond the conviction of the religious. For the religious, anchored in the world, seeing it as it is, may find good reasons for doubt, and rely on the confirmation of their faith.

The partisans in this cause have often rejected, with contempt, the possibility of knowing “moral truths.”  My own sense is that they cling to the orthodoxy of climate change precisely to take the place of those anchoring moral truths that firmed up conviction, and offered consolation, to an earlier generation.

The response of course of the partisans over climate change has mainly been to ignore the evidence and reasoning brought forth by these other, accomplished men of science.  It is far easier to preserve a new orthodoxy if one simply pretends that it draws no serious critique.

The Left came to its position on abortion in the momentum of sexual liberation.  They would reject all moral truths as they would reject any ground of moral judgment on the way that people practice their sexual lives.  But the moral functions of commending and condemning are simply built into our nature.

The Left may reject moral truth, but they want something to feel righteous about, and they do want to ring condemnation for their adversaries.   “Climate change” has given them a “moral” world nicely detached from those vexing moral truths, and a kind of pseudo-religion, bereft of the weave of reasoning that runs through the religion we have come to know.

Read the complete article here.

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Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.
— James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1790