Beth's Philosophy


I am an exuberant, passionate and affectionate person who is enthusiastic about life, but I am also wickedly sarcastic. My philosophical and political beliefs are extremely important to me. I have a master's degree in philosophy with a concentration in applied ethics. I describe myself politically as a civil libertarian, a pacifist, a sex-positive feminist and a secular humanist.

First and foremost, I am a civil libertarian. I am a passionate defender of human freedom. Generally, I am a follower of John Stuart Mill. I absolutely believe you should be able to do whatever you wish so long as it doesn't harm anyone else. I wish to limit to the greatest extent possible the power of the group to control the behavior of the individual. Most emphatically, I do not believe that government should be empowered to kill citizens.

I am a pacifist. I believe that violence is an unfortunate tool to be used only in the most extreme circumstances. Violence is by its very nature coercive, and thus goes against the principle of human freedom. However, I am not a complete pacifist. I don't believe you should be prohibited from fighting back if you find yourself under direct attack. I also believe you should stand up for yourself and resist if you feel your rights are being infringed upon. However, I think you should do what you can to prevent things from reaching the extreme point at which violence would be justified. You should try to live harmoniously with other people, and when conflict inevitably arises, you should try to look at both sides of the issue and be reasonable. I believe that violence typically arises from a failure of at least one involved party to be reasonable.

I am a sex-positive feminist. As I've said, I believe in maximizing human freedom. I don't believe that our freedom should be limited by a happenstance like our gender. We shouldn't be defined by our gender, and we shouldn't be forced into narrow gender roles. Traditional female and male roles are based on an artificial economic structure whereby a woman, unable to provide for herself directly, must enter into a sexual relationship with a man in order to survive. This is limiting not only to the woman, but also to the man involved, and additionally places arbitrary conditions on the relationship between them. I call myself a sex-positive feminist because traditional feminism has unfortunately become associated with the same sort of anti-sex moralizing as characterizes the religious right. I diagree with this, and I don't believe that we can complete the task of liberating women without sexual liberation. Sex is a good thing, and an important part of expressing yourself as a human being. Men have always tried to control women's sexuality, in an effort to ensure men's genetic connection to their children. This is understandable, but it doesn't make it right.

"Secular humanist" is a politically loaded term, which means it has the advantage of conveying a lot of information. If I tell you I'm a secular humanist, you'll have a pretty good idea about what a lot of my political beliefs are because you know what's associated with secular humanism. You'll likely guess, for instance, that I'm an environmentalist, even though that has nothing to do directly with secularism or humanism. What I mean here, however, is that I am a materialist and an atheist, and I believe that life is for fun; it's not a test. You'd better concentrate on enjoying the life you've got as much as you can, because it's all you've got. Don't defer your gratification in hopes of some future heavenly reward.

I'm sure you'll disagree with me on at least some point, and talking about this stuff is my second-favorite thing to do, so feel free to email me with your thoughts. For further reading on these topics, see my books page.

Last updated: 12/31/2005 by Beth Zuckerman

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