Do the Bee Police Enforce God’s Law? Or Are They Darwinian Nihilists? by Larry Arnhart

I want to a link to another terrific blog post by philosopher Larry Arnhart.One worry--perhaps the worry--about basing morality on the biology of human nature is that it makes morality species-specific. Darwin himself voiced this concern in The Descent of Man: "In the same manner as various animals have some sense of beauty, though they admire widely different objects, so they might have a sense of right and wrong, though led by it to follow widely different lines of conduct.  If, for inst … [Read more...]

Does Darwinism Make Morality Fictional?

Larry Arnhart always writes terrific blog posts; this one from 2013 is no exception. (If you're a regular reader of the Secular Outpost but not of his blog, then you should start reading his blog.) In this post, he takes issue with (among others) Michael Ruse's claim that evolutionary naturalism undermines the foundations of morality. Aside: isn't it amazing how apologists like William Lane Craig will quote Michael Ruse to make an argument from authority to support the claim that atheism leads t … [Read more...]

Atheism, Morality, and Divine Nature Theories vs. Ideal Observer Theories

This another item I found while organizing material on my hard drive. I think I am the author, but I am not certain of that. What is the advantage of divine nature theories over ideal observer theories?  Consider, for example, a divine nature theory of moral value.  On such a view, God’s nature, not God, is the source of moral value.  But what is the distinction between God and His nature?  Presumably, God’s nature is simply the collection of God’s properties or attributes (e.g., the property of … [Read more...]

Quentin Smith’s Argument for Moral Realism

I am summarizing Smith's argument here, without comment pro or con, for interested readers. Feel free to debate in the combox.In his history of 20th century moral philosophy, Ethical and Religious Thought, Quentin Smith draws the following distinction between first-level and second-level ethical beliefs: A first-level ethical belief is that something is good or evil or that something is of equal or greater value than something else, for example, that philosophical understanding is at least a … [Read more...]

J.L. Mackie’s Argument from Queerness against Objective Values

In his highly significant book, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong, the late Oxford philosopher J.L. Mackie rejected moral objectivism and instead defended an error theory.[1] Although Mackie admitted that ordinary moral language and first-level moral beliefs imply moral objectivism, he argued on empirical grounds that moral objectivism is false.  Mackie called one of his anti-objectivist arguments the “argument from queerness.”  Mackie viewed his argument as having “two parts, one metaphysical, t … [Read more...]

Morality Cannot Have a Foundation in God: A Summary for the General Reader by Quentin Smith

The following essay was written by Quentin Smith around 2001 or 2002, but inexplicably fell through the cracks. While organizing files on my computer, I recently rediscovered it and am happy to be able to share it with our readers. I am posting it here, without taking a position pro or con, for interested readers. Feel free to debate in the combox.  MORALITY CANNOT HAVE A FOUNDATION IN GOD: A SUMMARY FOR THE GENERAL READER                                                   BY QUEN … [Read more...]

Whitcomb’s Grounding Argument for Atheism and Reply by Rasmussen et al

I am quoting the abstract of these papers here, without comment pro or con, for interested readers who may wish to read the papers for themselves. Feel free to debate in the combox. Whitcomb's argument for atheism: Abstract I’m going to argue that omniscience is impossible and therefore that there is no God. The argument turns on the notion of grounding. After illustrating and clarifying that notion, I’ll start the argument in earnest. The first step will be to lay out five claim … [Read more...]

LINK: What is a Physical Object? by Ned Markosian

I am quoting the abstract of this paper here, without comment pro or con, for interested readers who may wish to read the paper for themselves. Feel free to debate in the combox. Abstract: The concept of a physical object has figured prominently in the history of philosophy, and is probably more important now than it has ever been before. Yet the question What are physical objects?, i.e., What is the correct analysis of the concept of a physical object?, has received surprisingly little at … [Read more...]


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