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The aim of my paper is to assess in a critical way the views presented by Graeme Smith in his book A Short History of Secularism (2008) as well as in his paper Talking to Ourselves: An Investigation into the Christian Ethics Inherent in Secularism (2017). According to Smith, secular Western societies are underpinned by Christian ethics. An example of a moral norm that – in Smith’s opinion – derives from medieval Christianity and shapes the moral condition of the members of contemporary societies, is the concern about the poor. My criticism of Smith’s thesis is based on the distinction between moral norms and the ways of justifying them. Referring to this distinction, my objective is to show that certain norms which appear to be the same cannot be treated as identical due to the significant differences in their justification.
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