Richard Schoenig’s New Paper: “Objective Ethics Without Religion”

Abstract: Theists frequently aver that atheism is incompatible with moral realism (the view that there are objective moral facts). This paper defends a justifiable objective moral code, termed ethical rationalism (ER), that does not depend on the existence of any supernatural being. ER is a seven-principle moral code comprising two general prescriptions: do not harm others and help them whenever feasible. It is argued that ER (and hence objective morality) is justified by the fact that all moral agents would have a greater chance of achieving more of their plans of life leading to a long and fulfilling life if they lived in a society that followed ER rather than one that followed any other moral code.

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About Jeffery Jay Lowder

Jeffery Jay Lowder is President Emeritus of Internet Infidels, Inc., which he co-founded in 1995. He is also co-editor of the book, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave.

  • Carlos

    You can rationalize ethics. that’s what philosophy as been doing. But All moral is subjective because it is not dependent on any physical law. It is relative to context and specially information.
    Smoking is bad because it kills you. But then comes one guy who never had any disease and his Alzheimer was actually slowed down by the nicotine. It was good to him then. If you knew this beforehand you would have said smoking is bad
    Grandson killed grandparents and made it look like an accident, got their fortune and lived a full happy life.
    If there is no afterlife his action from HIS point of view was good because it was beneficial. If there is an afterlife and some sort of punishment then his action from HIS point of view was bad even if he doesn’t know.
    If you don’t have an absolute answer to all repercussions of your actions you can never reach the optimal ethical decision

  • Objective Ethics

    “It is argued that ER (and hence objective morality) is justified by the
    fact that all moral agents would have a greater chance of achieving more
    of their plans of life leading to a long and fulfilling life if they
    lived in a society that followed ER rather than one that followed any
    other moral code.”

    There is a contradiction right here – “plan” and “life”. What if someone’s plan is to kill himself?

    You cannot base objective ethics on ANY presumption other than personal freedom. But is it possible to find moral norms this way? Yes. Personal freedom is possible only through general agreement. There is a book (“Cult of Freedom”) that explains how it could be done. Here is a short piece from the book description:

    “The book explains the ethical foundations of human society. It describes how ethics came into being, why we need it, what purpose it has. This book shows (and proves) why there could be the only one possible “true” ethics – objective ethics (OE). This true ethics is objective in the sense that its source is in objective (social) reality independent of any possible moral actor. Objective ethics is the basis for actions of and relations between any rational beings not connected personally. It has nothing to do with religion, traditions or science. The foundations of OE are purely metaphysical although its practical norms are found and formed through a trusted fair contract between free moral actors. However, OE is not based on contract. Rather it is contract that based on this ethics. To achieve this, OE demands the elimination of all forms of violence, coercion, oppression, influence and the like that may violate free expression of the will and leads humanity to a free and just society that is a moral alternative to the modern oppressive order. OE brings no practical benefits, goods or utility, and its ultimate goal is absolute freedom even if it is unreachable. It helps find the objective truth and distinguish the objectively good from the objectively bad.”

    There is a site dedicated to objective ethics – http://ethical-liberty.com. It is based on the book and presents all of the important ideas.


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