HAT FORUM: Sat March 29, 11 am HAT principles, Part 2

Date:  Sat March 29, 11am - 1pm
Location:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W.
Topic:  HAT Humanist Principles discussion, Part 2
Last week we lovingly kicked about the HAT principles with some good but general discussion.  What emerged from the discussion were some specific questions about the current principles and some ideas of how they could be improved.  Improvements were related to:
  • how they could be made more clear
  • how they could be made more appealing to new humanists or potential humanists
Some questions raised for the sake of improvement were:
  • Principle vii) melds several concepts of human dignity, respect, responsibility, community, ethics and freedom into one statement. Could/should this be broken out into more than one principle and moved to the top of this list to give it more weight and importance?
  • How could the principles be altered to give them more 'heart'?  Is there enough humanity in our humanist principles? What about empathy?
  • Where is the link between how and what we think (knowledge, reason, creativity) to human ethics?  Should there be a linking principle (e.g. reduction of suffering/harm or duty of care)?
Please come to the Forum with some specific new or revised principles that you think would make HAT's principles better in some way.  Be prepared to say how this change would benefit HAT as an organization or benefit its members.
N.B. The statement of our current 7 principles is posted below, and can also be found on the HAT website under the tab ABOUT HAT


HAT Constitution: Section 3 - Declaration of Principles

(i)    Freedom of Inquiry: Every individual should be free to inquire into any and all areas of thought, to explore, to challenge, question or doubt. Without freedom of inquiry, we lose the ability to improve the human condition.
(ii)    The Use of Reason: Reason provides a common standard against which we can test our perceptions. Without reason there is no valid tool for making judgments.
(iii)    Knowledge: The only thing that can be called knowledge is that which is firmly grounded in human understanding and empirical verification. Without human comprehension and verification we lose our connection with the natural world around us.
(iv)    Creativity: Human creativity is essential to the ability to solve problems, expand knowledge, and fulfill our cultural needs.
(v)    Fallibility: Human knowledge and human ethics have changed over time and will continue to change. Without acknowledging fallibility we risk descent into dogma.
(vi)    The Natural World: The physical world is the world in which our ethics must operate, rather than in any imagined Utopian societies or afterlife. Because the physical world is the only one of which we have empirical knowledge, it is irrational to sacrifice benefits in this world for supposed gains in imaginary ones.
(vii)    Human Ethics: Ethical decisions should be made in the context of real people, real situations, real human needs and aspirations and the consideration of real consequences. Humanism combines personal liberty with social responsibility. It affirms the dignity of every person, the right of the individual to the greatest possible freedom compatible with the rights of others, and the need for community. Without this context we risk the worst excesses of ideology.