There have been great advances in the human condition due to science: recollect the horrors of childbirth, surgical operations, even of having a tooth out, a hundred years ago. If the human race is not extinguished there may be cures of cancer, senility, and other evils, so that happiness may outweigh unhappiness in the case of more and more individuals. Perhaps our far superior descendants of a million years hence (if they exist) will be possessed of a felicity unimaginable to us.
J. J. C. Smart, Ethics, Persuasion, and Truth, London, 1984, p. 141
The reason why there are hardly ever completely knock-down arguments, except between very like minded philosophers, is that philosophers, unlike chemists or geologists, are licensed to question everything, including methodology.
J. J. C. Smart, ‘Ockhamist Comments on Strawson’, in Anthony Freeman (ed.), Consciousness and its Place in Nature: Does Physicalism Entail Panpsychism?, Exteter, 2006, pp. 158-159
That anything should exist at all does seem to me a matter for the deepest awe. But whether other people feel this sort of awe, and whether they or I ought to is another question. I think we ought to.
J. J. C. Smart, ‘The Existence of God’, Church Quarterly Review, vol. 156, no. 319 (April-June, 1955), p. 194
I regard Peter as one of the great moralists, because I suspect that more than anyone he has helped to change the attitudes of very many people to the sufferings of animals. Peter is a utilitarian in normative ethics, and a humane attitude to animals is a natural corollary of utilitarianism. Utilitarian concern for animals goes back to Bentham, who, presumably alluding to the Kantians, said that the question was not whether animals can reason, but whether they can suffer.
J. J. C. Smart, ‘Reply to Singer’, in Philip Pettit, Richard Sylvan and Jean Norman (eds.), Metaphysics and Morality: Essays in Honour of J. J. C. Smart, Oxford, 1987, p. 192
Men were made for higher things, one can’t help wanting to say, even though one knows that men weren’t made for anything, but are the product of natural selection.
J. J. C. Smart, ‘An Outline of a System of Utilitarian Ethics’, in J. J. C. Smart and Bernard Williams, Utilitarianism For and Against, Cambridge, 1973, p. 19
[I]f it is rational for me to choose the pain of a visit to the dentist in order to prevent the pain of a toothache, why is it not rational of me to choose a pain of Jones, similar to that of my visit to the dentist, if that is the only way in which I can prevent a pain, equal to that of my toothache, for Robinson?
J. J. C. Smart, ‘An Outline of a System of Utilitarian Ethics’, in J. J. C. Smart and Bernard Williams, Utilitarianism For and Against, Cambridge, 1973, p. 26