This is my last post for the Patheos Atheist Portal

Update: I'm starting to work through the comments section and respond here.For several years, a lot of my friends have been telling me I had an inconsistent and unsustainable philosophy.  "A virtue ethicist atheist whose transhumanism seems to be rooted in dualism?  Who won't shut up about moral lapses as wounds to the soul and keeps trying to convince us it's better to be sinned against than sinning?  Who has started talking about mortifying her pride and keeps pulling out Lewis and Ch … [Read more...]

It’s Teleology All the Way Down (Blogathon 4/12)

This post is number four of twelve for the Secular Student Alliance Blogathon.  I'm responding to comments in the "Go Ahead, Tell Me What's Wrong with Homosexuality" thread all day.  You can read an explanation of the Blogathon and a pitch for donations (even if you're religious) here.And now to disagree with someone who's technically on my side (kind of). Smrda wrote: I find utilitarian ethics perfectly satisfying – if an action doesn’t produce a victim, then it isn’t wrong. If a relati … [Read more...]

Have Humans ‘Won’ Evolution?

In the comments of my last post on evolution and the source of moral law, I had a bit of a back and forth with Matt about whether evolution favors altruism.  I want to single out his comments for two reasons.  First, I thought he displayed admirable humility in admitting he didn't have the evidence to back up his intuition.  A lack of data didn't mean he had to give up his opinion (after all, scientists usually aren't agnostic about what experimental results they expect) and he did a nice job ex … [Read more...]

Scared of Darwin for All the Wrong Reasons

UPDATE: I've expanded a response to a commenter in a new post: "Have Humans 'Won' Evolution?"Over at Patheos's group blog on science and religion, Connor Wood is trying to explain why people have a visceral discomfort with evolution.  He sees natural selection as the ultimate example of "nature red in tooth and claw" -- a rigged game that pits us all against each other and suppresses the better angels of our nature.  He writes: Once you start looking at evolutionary reasons for human beh … [Read more...]

Immoral Moral Law, Unnatural Nature

Squeltchtoad's Immoral Moral Law thought experiment was weird and paradoxical enough that I had a lot of trouble getting purchase on the problem.  That confusion might be actually be evidence, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't giving myself an easy out.  Since I was having trouble thinking about the problem in situ, I tried to carry it over into another discipline.For mathematicians or physicists, perhaps Squelchtoad's hypothetical would be the discovery that the universe was disordered.   … [Read more...]

An Objective Immoral Moral Law

My friend Squelchtoad has posed another useful thought example up at his interblag.  I'm excerpting below, but you should pop over and read the whole set up.  It's targeted to people like me, who think morality exists in some objective, possibly neo-platonist way and therefore feel unsettled without a well-grounded moral philosophy.  Squelchtoad writes: Suppose I could demonstrate to you beyond all possible doubt that one of the following two propositions was necessarily true:There does no … [Read more...]

Morality in Multiple Dimensions

In college, I got into a lot of debates about moral relativism, cultural imperialism, and epistemological modesty.  When we were picking fights, it was useful to be able to get a quick sense of your sparring partner's positions, and my friends and I had an easy way to do triage: During the British occupation of India, were the British imperialists right to condemn sati (the practise of burning widows alive on their husbands pyres)?  Were they right to want to eliminate it?  Were the women wrong … [Read more...]