The work of morality is not done in the realm of reason.
The work of morality is not done through dispassionate lectures, or blog postings that emotionlessly follow a path from a set of true premises through the length of a valid argument to a moral conclusion. It is not done in friendly debate or discussion.
The work of morality requires picking up the tools of morality – praise, condemnation, reward, and punishment – and applying the tools to task at hand to modify desires insofar as they can be modified. It requires actually going to the effort of promoting those desires that tend to fulfill other desires, and inhibiting those desires that tend to thwart other desires.
Reason has a role to play in telling us what those desires are, the degree to which they can be molded, and in how to most effectively use the tools of morality to mold those desires. However, reason alone does not do the work. In the same way, reason can tell you how to change a tire. However, you need to pick up the tools and actually apply them to the job if you want to get the tires changed.
A protest – people with signs marching and shouting – is one of the places where moral work actually gets done. Protests are acts of condemnation. It does not matter that the slogans that show up on the signs or the chants that the marchers use are not logically sound syllogisms leading to necessarily true conclusions. It matters that the signs and chants express praise on the one hand for what the marchers seek to promote, and condemnation on the other hand for what the marchers seek to inhibit.
Reason tells us if the protesters are working to promote that which there are many and strong reasons to promote – or if they are working to inhibit that which there are many and strong reasons to inhibit. However, reason does not do the work of promoting or inhibiting. That is the work that the protestors have taken up.
My ideal example of doing moral work can be found in the national motto and the national pledge. The national motto is an act of praise for those who trust in God (and an act of condemnation for those who do not), attached to something that is essential in every person’s life.
The Pledge of Allegiance is an act of praise for those who support a nation under God (and an act of condemnation for those who do not), aimed primarily at an audience whose minds are the most malleable, creating an emotional bond in the brain of the child for a state of affairs in which the nation is under God, and an aversion to anything that threatens the realization of such a state.
There are no arguments or syllogisms in these examples. No "reasons to believe" are provided. Rather, these acts of praise and condemnation work directly on the desires – particularly those of children.
The effect of this moral work is to create a state in which a person must trust in God and support a nation under God to enter public office. It is to promote a state where a supermajority of citizens would not want their child to marry an atheist, that views atheists as inherent anti-American, and who will withdraw support for any policy or program from the teaching of evolution to enforcing the First Amendment to the Constitution, that can be presented as a threat to trust in God or a nation under God.
It does so in a way that makes attempts to reason people out of these convictions a waste of effort, for the most part. Their attitudes are not grounded in reason, they are grounded in desires and aversions planted in their brains as children. Desires and aversions are a realm that reason typically cannot touch. They are a realm that we reach through praise, condemnation, reward, and punishment.
I want to point out that the qualifiers in the previous paragraph are meant to respect the fact that not all children learn the same moral lessons. An attempt to promote certain attitudes may make those attitudes more common, but it is difficult to make any set of attitudes truly universal.
There will be those who escape this attempt to plant desires for trust in God and a nation under God, and to plant aversion to anything that threaten such a state, and it will meet with certain degrees of success in others. None of that defeats the argument I am making here.
Again, the fact that people pick up a tool (such as praise and condemnation) and wield it does not prove that they are wielding it for a good end. That the praise that our government and its institutions heap upon those who trust in God and support a nation under God is effective and a perfect example of doing moral work is not proof that it is right.
In fact, in this case, the tools are not being used for a good end. This does not change the fact that the tools are being used efficiency - with great skill and precision. An expert soldier can be an expert soldier in the service of good or evil. How well he uses his tools, and the quality of the ends he serves with them, are two different questions.
Reason tells us the quality of the ends, and how best to use the tools in service to those ends.
However, the people who actually wield the tools of praise and condemnation are the ones doing the real work.
Here, I want to repeat my standard disclaimer. In an open society, the only legitimate response to words are words and private actions – not violence. The only legitimate response to a political campaign is a counter-campaign focused on persuading people that one’s position is correct, not on threats of violence commanding expressions of acceptance.