Hugh Taft challenged everyone else’s beliefs in little over an hour and a half on Sunday.

Yesterday, the Penn Secular Society hosted Taft , a leader in the ethical humanist movement, who spoke on the reason, feeling, theory and praxis behind his legal religion. Dr. Pepper in hand, the philosopher broke the ice with Plato before arriving to the materialism of capitalism, the great prompter of the 140-year-old movement.

After a brief historical overview, Taft defined ethical humanism as a campaign that works to promote social justice and ethical interaction. It is founded on the idea that every conscious being has inherent worth and that everyone should act to reduce the pain of others.

"[The movement] cannot be justified through rational explanation, but by values suited to the world,” Taft said.

Often, Taft’s beliefs on controversial issues varied with his emotions.

Interpolating theory and practice, he discussed the subjective appreciation of the beauty of life and the miraculousness of birth and presented veritable arguments against abortion, claiming it is something “liberals did not want to understand.”

Later, however, he said that “fathers don’t have a hell of a lot of a relationship with their unborn child.”

Taft continued his discussion by situating himself against the politics of a religion that perpetuated a caste system which divided believers and nonbelievers.

Although the movement emphasizes pluralism and freedom of thought, it is clear that its foundations and goals — reducing climate change, eradicating racism, reducing the influence of religion in politics, among others — are not up for grabs.

"[The movement] is open to tolerable hypocrisy, one that allows diversity of thought, if not of action,” Taft said.

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