Classical Theism, Philosophy, and Religion Forum

You are not logged in. Would you like to login?



7/17/2018 11:14 pm  #1


Moral arguments

I am not entirely sure where I stand w.r.t. moral arguments in natural theology. I tend to ground morality in natural law. So for me morality doesn't directly depend on God, but on the natures and ends of natural substances, in particular of rational beings. That being said, sometimes I can't help but feel like there's something transcendent in moral norms.

(I do think morality provides some evidence in favor of theism against (say) naturalism, because we can reasonably expect contingent reality to include moral agents under theism. But here I'm talking about the standard argument from objective norms and duties to God, not this kind of teleological consideration)

I am not entirely sure what to make of this experience of the transcendent in morality. I'd like to hear people's thoughts on moral and axiological arguments for God.

I think my current view, which I'm still developing, is that although the objectivity of morality is grounded in natures, independently from God, the *experience* we often have of good/evil is indicative of transcendence and divinity. Think something like Newman's argument from the voice of conscience.

Last edited by Miguel (7/17/2018 11:15 pm)

 

7/18/2018 1:34 am  #2


Re: Moral arguments

Check out the philosopher John Rist, especially his work Real Ethics. Also I would like to add my two cents.

"I think my current view, which I'm still developing, is that although the objectivity of morality is grounded in natures, independently from God, the *experience* we often have of good/evil is indicative of transcendence and divinity."

Hmmm, but aren't we contingent beings, so ultimately where do ground our natures? If that's the case then wouldn't the objectivity of morality be ontologically dependent on God (or a Platonic metaphysics)?


 

 

7/18/2018 11:36 am  #3


Re: Moral arguments

Mysterious Brony wrote:

Check out the philosopher John Rist, especially his work Real Ethics. Also I would like to add my two cents.

"I think my current view, which I'm still developing, is that although the objectivity of morality is grounded in natures, independently from God, the *experience* we often have of good/evil is indicative of transcendence and divinity."

Hmmm, but aren't we contingent beings, so ultimately where do ground our natures? If that's the case then wouldn't the objectivity of morality be ontologically dependent on God (or a Platonic metaphysics)?


 

 
I take natures to be ultimately grounded in the divine intellect (something like the Augustinian view), so morality is indirectly dependent on God. But not directly. By creating humans, God is creating moral creatures.

So a possible argument for God there wouldn't be directly based on morality, but rather on the grounding of natures, like the Augustinian argument x platonism and aristotelianism.

     Thread Starter
 

7/18/2018 12:45 pm  #4


Re: Moral arguments

I am enthusiastic supporter of the moral argument and the related Kantian Ought Implies Can argument for an afterlife though I have as yet found no analytical formulations that please me. Conversely I agree with the Nietzschean claim that without God there are no objective values.  I consider it a strong point against natural law that it does not capture the ultimate dependency of morality on some kind of transcendent meaning. I don’t see it is an either or thing with natures or essences. If the fulfillment of existence or moral action is participation in the transcendent then surely it is this of necessity and thus presumably of our nature. There is something about the human predicament though to do with our consciousness of time and mortality about which the natural law standards of goodness are radically insufficient - why should we go on and perpetuate with rationality's only contributing factor being that we know this to be good (why?). If Sartre's quip about being unable to essentialise a man in the same way one essentialises a stone means that our worldly natures are radically insufficient to capture what we are then I agree with it (an am inclined horror of horrors to treat it as a point in favor of substance dualism).

We might distinguish between different forms of moral argument, roughly like so:

1. Deontic arguments from the existence of a moral law to a supreme law giver.
2. Axiological arguments from the existence of value properties qua value properties to a transcendent source of all value.
3. Arguments based on the meaning of life i.e. that transcendent union with God is necessary for a fully meaningful life.

I think something important can be made of the latter two if not the first.

Last edited by DanielCC (7/18/2018 12:53 pm)

 

7/18/2018 11:48 pm  #5


Re: Moral arguments

To me ethics wouldn't make much sense if it weren't grounded in the essences of things; it's because man is the type of creature he is that he has so many rights relating to his (even potential) reason, needs and capacities. So I'm inclined to think some NL does capture what is ultimately important and meaningful in morality. However, as I said, I am also sympathetic to the idea that we feel something transcendent in morality. I try to do justice to it by differentiating between the grounding of morality - which may be found in rather prosaic facts, such as a creature being conscious, rational, having certain needs, etc - and our experience of morality - the way we sometimes come in contact with basic moral norms, which can be similar to powerful aesthetic and even religious experiences. And this experience is often a big motivator for following natural law (answering some kind of sartrean "why be moral?" questions)

Perhaps this approach would be close to the arguments stated in 2, from value properties to a transcendent source of all value. The way some basic facts (such as "murder is wrong") which get their explanation/grounding from natural law are nonetheless embued with a special "value", or presented to us in transcendent experiences, or as commands from what could be described as a "voice of conscience" or "voice of God" which stands in absolute authority over us.

Last edited by Miguel (7/18/2018 11:53 pm)

     Thread Starter
 

7/23/2018 5:31 pm  #6


Re: Moral arguments

DanielCC wrote:

2. Axiological arguments from the existence of value properties qua value properties to a transcendent source of all value.

I would be interested to see someone develop this, partly because I've always wondered whether virtue ethicists really need a divine ground (I'm guessing a lot of contemporary ones think they don't, cf. Taylor's Virtue Ethics), and partly because I've always wondered whether someone can argue from aesthetic value properties to the existence of God.

 

Board footera

 

Powered by Boardhost. Create a Free Forum