Moral Objectivity vs. Moral Accountability

Some people confuse moral objectivity and moral accountability.To say that moral values are objective is just to say that moral values are not determined by what anyone thinks. Moral accountability, on the other hand, has to do with the consequences for people's moral or immoral behavior.So saying that moral values are objective is to say precisely nothing about moral accountability, including whether there are "eternal consequences" for our actions. It could be the case that there are O … [Read more...]

What Explains God’s Moral Grounding Power? A Problem for Divine Command Ethics

The Divine Command Theory says that God possesses the power to ground or create moral obligations. Let’s call this power, in virtue of which God’s commands ground moral obligations, ‘moral grounding power’ (MG-power).Moral Grounding Power (MG-power): Being B has MG-power if and only if the commands of B ground moral obligationsI want to write about a question that is very natural but that I think is rather difficult for divine command theorists to answer. The question is: In virtue of wha … [Read more...]

Paul Copan’s Noseeum Argument Against Ethics Without God

Over the last fifteen or so years, Paul Copan has written a variety of articles, chapters, and books which argue against ethics without God. (To be precise, Copan argues against atheistic or naturalistic metaethics.) As I interpret him, Copan offers several independent arguments against ethics without God. I call one of those arguments "Copan's Noseeum Moral Argument" and that is the argument I want to discuss here.The basic idea of the argument is this. since we see no ontological … [Read more...]

More on the Arbitrariness Objection to the Divine Command Theory

I’ve been carrying on a conversation with Matthew Flannagan about the arbitrariness objection to the divine command theory. You can find my first post on the issue here and Matt’s response here. In this post I am going to continue my defense, against Flannagan’s objections, of the arbitrariness argument (AA):Either God’s commands are arbitrary or they are grounded in reasons. Arbitrary commands cannot ground moral obligations.  If God’s commands are grounded in reasons, then it is those … [Read more...]

Quentin Smith on Bertrand Russell on “Unyielding Despair” and the Meaning of Life

In his essay, "A Free Man's Worship," Bertrand Russell writes: Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no … [Read more...]

Important New (Advanced but) Must-Read Book on Ethics without God by Erik Wielenberg

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Oxford University Press has just published the latest book by Erik Wielenberg, entitled Robust Ethics: The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Godless Normative Realism. Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of Wielenberg's work; his previous books include Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and God and the Reach of Reason: C.S. Lewis, David Hume, and Bertrand Russell (Cambridge University Press, 2007).As you would expect … [Read more...]

Massimo Pigliucci on Metaethics, Part 1

William Lane Craig and Massimo Pigliucci debated the existence of God in 1998. (Click here to read the transcript.) In his opening statement, Craig presented his standard moral argument for God's existence. (1) If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist. (2) Objective values do exist. (3) Therefore, God exists. In his opening statement, Pigliucci denied (2). Finally, the problem of morality, which I'm sure we'll have more to say about--oh yeah, I agree with Dr. Craig when he … [Read more...]

William Provine on Evolutionary Naturalism and Morality

Cornell University biologist William Provine debated UC Berkeley law professor in 1998. (Click here for a link to the transcript.) In his opening statement, Provine made the following provocative assertion. Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear — and these are basically Darwin’s views. There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead … [Read more...]


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