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Metaethics

Metaethics

God and Cosmos

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Naturalistic ethics is the reigning paradigm among contemporary ethicists; in God and Cosmos, David Baggett and Jerry L. Walls argue that this approach is seriously flawed. This book canvasses a broad array of secular and naturalistic ethical theories in an effort to test their adequacy in accounting for moral duties, intrinsic human value, moral knowledge, prospects for radical moral transformation, and the rationality of morality. In each case, the authors argue, although various secular accounts provide real insights and indeed share common ground with theistic ethics, the resources of classical theism and orthodox Christianity provide the better explanation of the moral realities under consideration. Among such realities is the fundamental insight behind the problem of evil, namely, that the world is not as it should be. Baggett and Walls argue that God and the world, taken together, exhibit superior explanatory scope and power for morality classically construed, without the need to water down the categories of morality, the import of human value, the prescriptive strength of moral obligations, or the deliverances of the logic, language, and phenomenology of moral experience. This book thus provides a cogent moral argument for God’s existence, one that is abductive, teleological, and cumulative.

In Search of Moral Knowledge

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Scott Smith, carefully and consciously, with philosophical rigor and clarity of word, offers a defense of moral knowledge that is tightly tethered to more ancient, and Christian, understandings of the good, the true and the beautiful. The result is a compelling case for why philosophical naturalism, including its cousin, nominalism, must be rejected by anyone who sincerely seeks after moral knowledge. Smith’s greatest accomplishment in this book, however, is the way in which he interacts, at a high level, with contemporary philosophical schools of thought and ancient traditions in a way fully accessible to the educated layman and college student. ~ Francis J. Beckwith

Jean-Jacques Rouseau on the Golden Rule

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Even the precept of doing unto others as we would have them do unto us has no true foundation other than conscience and sentiment; for where is the precise reason for me, being myself, to act as if I were another, especially when I am morally certain of never finding myself in the same situation? And who will guarantee me that in very faithfully following this maxim I will get others to follow it similarly with me? The wicked man gets advantage from the just man’s probity and his own injustice. He is delighted that everyone, with the exception of himself, be just. This agreement, whatever may be said about it, is not very advantageous for good men. When the strength of an expansive soul makes me identify myself with my fellow, and I feel that I am, so to speak, in him, it is in order not to suffer that I do not want him to suffer. I am interested in him for love of myself, and the reason for the precept is in nature itself, which inspires in me the desire of my well-being in whatever place I feel my existence. From this I conclude that it is not true that the precepts of natural law are founded on reason alone. They have a base more solid and sure. Love of men derived from love of self is the principle of the human justice. The summation of all morality is given by the Gospel in its summation of the law.

Good God

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This book aims to reinvigorate discussions of moral arguments for God’s existence. To open this debate, Baggett and Walls argue that God’s love and moral goodness are perfect, without defect, necessary, and recognizable. After integrating insights from the literature of both moral apologetics and theistic ethics, they defend theistic ethics against a variety of objections and, in so doing, bolster the case for the moral argument for God’s existence. It is the intention of the authors to see this aspect of natural theology resume its rightful place of prominence, by showing how a worldview predicated on the God of both classical theism and historical Christian orthodoxy has more than adequate resources to answer the Euthyphro Dilemma, speak to the problem of evil, illumine natural law, and highlight the moral significance of the incarnation and resurrection of Christ. Ultimately, the authors argue, there is principled reason to believe that morality itself provides excellent reasons to look for a transcendent source of its authority and reality, and a source that is more than an abstract principle. ~ Book Description

What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide

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In this new revised edition of his groundbreaking work, Professor J. Budziszewski questions the modern assumption that moral truths are unknowable. With clear and logical arguments he rehabilitates the natural law tradition and restores confidence in a moral code based upon human nature. What We Can’t Not Know explains the rational foundation of what we all really know to be right and wrong and shows how that foundation has been kicked out from under western society. Having gone through stages of atheism and nihilism in his own search for truth, Budziszewski understands the philosophical and personal roots of moral relativism. With wisdom born of both experience and rigorous intellectual inquiry, he offers a firm foothold to those who are attempting either to understand or to defend the reasonableness of traditional morality. While natural law bridges the chasms that can be caused by religious and philosophical differences, Budziszewski believes that natural law theory has entered a new phase, in which theology will again have pride of place. While religious belief might appear to hamper the search for common ground, Budziszewski demonstrates that it is not an obstacle, but a pathway to apprehending universal norms of behavior. ~ Publisher’s Description

Understanding Religious Ethics

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This accessible introduction to religious ethics focuses on the major forms of ethical reasoning encompassing the three “Abrahamic” religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It examines the ethical dimensions of these faiths, both individually and comparatively, by exploring how and what they think about a series of important issues such as friendship, marriage, homosexuality, lying, forgiveness and its limits, the death penalty, the environment, warfare, and the meaning of work, career, and vocation. In doing all of this, the book offers insight both into these particular traditions and into the common moral challenges confronting all people today. The book pays serious attention not just to what each faith has to say about an issue, but also to how each faith explains and defends its moral viewpoints. Equal attention is given to each faith’s deliberation and judgments on specific issues, the styles and modes of reasoning by which those judgments are reached, and the ways in which those judgments reveal some of these traditions’ deepest convictions about God, the cosmos, and humanity. Timely and insightful, Understanding Religious Ethics offers a powerful model of how the traditions can be understood and engaged charitably and critically – the sort of understanding and engagement that will be increasingly necessary in the twenty-first century. ~ Product Description

Ethical Theory

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This authoritative and reader-friendly anthology will help you think through some of humanity’s most persistent questions regarding right and wrong, good and bad. Ethical Theory: Classical and Contemporary Readings cuts through the confusion and delivers a clear and comprehensive selection of readings from classical and contemporary sources. Presented in a dynamic pro and con format, with detailed summaries of each argument, this comprehensive anthology allows you to watch the ethical debate unfold before your eyes. • "This introductory textbook describes the historical schools, major problems, and current trends concerning the study of ethics. Selections from key philosophers cover topics like relativism and objectivism, egoism, value, utilitarianism, deontology, virtue, metaethics, skepticism, religion, sociobiology, feminism, and determinism. Representing the span of the Western canon, selections are drawn from the ancient, modern, and post-modern periods. A glossary is included." ~ Booknews

Lewis’ Moral Argument for God

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In this oft discussed passage from Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis spurns the supposed implications of a century’s worth of cultural anthropology, arguing that, in spite of surface differences, virtually all people possess an innate moral compass that is at bottom similar or the same. He begins by noting that human quarreling presupposes such a shared set of moral norms, that without a common set of “Rules of Human Nature”, quarreling would be, in effect, impossible. Lewis goes on to argue that this set of moral obligations we find in ourselves suggests a moral lawgiver. En route, he comments on the proper limits of science, on what we can infer on the basis of our own self-knowledge, and on the hypocrisy of those who claim no such common moral knowledge exists. Lewis’ essay is hardly the most rigorous moral argument for theism on offer, but it does display his knack for drawing on the everyday to illustrate his premises and his argument for a common ethic is especially worth considering in view of the conventional wisdom about the radical diversity of moral norms. The moral differences between persons and cultures is profound. Can Lewis’ argument for universal “Rules of Human Nature” be sustained? I’m particularly keen to reflect on the extent to which apparent moral differences should actually be attributed to different beliefs about reality. On this, see his thought provoking comments on the old practice of burning witches at the stake. Also note his observation that the materialistic and religious views of reality are not a bifurcation emerging out of the Enlightenment, but rather a fundamental divergence that turns up “wherever there having been thinking men”.

Morality Without God?

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Some argue that atheism must be false, since without God, no values are possible, and thus "everything is permitted." Walter Sinnott-Armstrong argues that God is not only not essential to morality, but that our moral behavior should be utterly independent of religion. He attacks several core ideas: that atheists are inherently immoral people; that any society will sink into chaos if it is becomes too secular; that without morality, we have no reason to be moral; that absolute moral standards require the existence of God; and that without religion, we simply couldn’t know what is wrong and what is right. Sinnott-Armstrong brings to bear convincing examples and data, as well as a lucid, elegant, and easy to understand writing style. This book should fit well with the debates raging over issues like evolution and intelligent design, atheism, and religion and public life as an example of a pithy, tightly-constructed argument on an issue of great social importance. ~ Product Description

God and Morality

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God and Morality evaluates the ethical theories of four principle philosophers, Aristotle, Duns Scotus, Kant, and R.M. Hare and: Uses their thinking as the basis for telling the story of the history and development of ethical thought more broadly; Focuses specifically on their writings on virtue, will, duty, and consequence; Concentrates on the theistic beliefs to highlight continuity of philosophical thought. ~ Product Description • "This is a splendid history of philosophical ethics, with special interest in God’s presence and importance in that perennial enterprise, by one of the leading philosophers of ethics writing today. Hare tops off this surprising, exciting, and unorthodox history with an account of his own that collects together the best features of the theistic ethics of the past. God and Morality is written with crystal clarity and impressive scholarship." ~ Robert Roberts, Baylor University

Value, Reality, and Desire

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Value, Reality, and Desire is an extended argument for a robust realism about value. The robust realist affirms the following distinctive theses. There are genuine claims about value which are true or false — there are facts about value. These value-facts are mind-independent — they are not reducible to desires or other mental states, or indeed to any non-mental facts of a non-evaluative kind. And these genuine, mind-independent, irreducible value-facts are causally efficacious. Values, quite literally, affect us. These are not particularly fashionable theses, and taken as a whole they go somewhat against the grain of quite a lot of recent work in the metaphysics of value. Further, against the received view, Oddie argues that we can have knowledge of values by experiential acquaintance, that there are experiences of value which can be both veridical and appropriately responsive to the values themselves. Finally, these value-experiences are not the products of some exotic and implausible faculty of "intuition." Rather, they are perfectly mundane and familiar mental states — namely, desires. This view explains how values can be "intrinsically motivating," without falling foul of the widely accepted "queerness" objection. There are, of course, other objections to each of the realist’s claims. In showing how and why these objections fail, Oddie introduces a wealth of interesting and original insights about issues of wider interest — including the nature of properties, reduction, supervenience, and causation. The result is a novel and interesting account which illuminates what would otherwise be deeply puzzling features of value and desire and the connections between them. ~ Product Description

The Rediscovery of the Highest Good

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Stuart Hackett’s The Rediscovery of the Highest Good, originally handwritten in spiral notebooks, is a masterwork of philosophical ethics that guides readers through 2300 years of discourse on the issue of morality, from Plato through Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. "It is the destiny of every human person to decide," Hackett opens. "Whether our choices are genuinely free or inevitably determined, invariably trivial or occasionally momentous, carelessly settled or reflectively reasoned, at least in one sense all this makes no difference: for the one thing about which persons have no choice is that we unavoidably and necessarily must choose, and cannot therefore escape our responsibility to do so." ~ Product Description

Is Goodness without God Good Enough?

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Morality and religion: intimately wed, violently opposed, or something else? Discussion of this issue appears in pop culture, the academy, and the media ? often generating radically opposed views. At one end of the spectrum are those who think that unless God exists, ethics is unfounded and the moral life is unmotivated. At the other end are those who think that religious belief is unnecessary for ? and even a threat to ? ethical knowledge and the moral life. This volume provides an accessible, charitable discussion that represents a range of views along this spectrum. The book begins with a lively debate between Paul Kurtz and William Lane Craig on the question, Is goodness without God good enough? Kurtz defends the affirmative position and Craig the negative. Following the debate are new essays by prominent scholars. These essays comment on the debate and advance the broader discussion of religion and morality. The book closes with final responses from Kurtz and Craig.

Ethical Intuitionism

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A defense of ethical intuitionism where (i) there are objective moral truths; (ii) we know these through an immediate, intellectual awareness, or "intuition"; and (iii) knowing them gives us reasons to act independent of our desires. The author rebuts the major objections to this theory and shows the difficulties in alternative theories of ethics. • "Read this. It is the best book ever written on meta-ethics. Even philosophers who know the field may feel as though they are confronting these issues for the first time. I used to think of ethical intuitionism as a silly, naIve, even ridiculous theory, but Michael Huemer has made an intuitionist out of me." ~ Stuart Rachels, University of Alabama • "Huemer’s book may be the best, most comprehensive defense of ethical intuitionism since Moore’s Principia Ethica…[it] is an outstanding defense of the view that there are objective moral truths knowable through intuition. Whether or not one agrees with Huemer’s conclusions, one cannot ignore the power of his arguments." ~ Richard Fumerton, University of Iowa

Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions

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With over 60,000 copies in print since its original publication in 1984, Ethics has served numerous generations of students as a classic introduction to philosophical ethics from a Christian perspective. Over the years the philosophical landscape has changed somewhat, and in this new edition Arthur Holmes adjusts the argument and information throughout, completely rewriting the earlier chapter on virtue ethics and adding a new chapter on the moral agent. The book addresses the questions: What is good? What is right? How can we know? In doing so it also surveys a variety of approaches to ethics, including cultural relativism, emotivism, ethical egoism and utilitarianism all with an acknowledgment of the new postmodern environment. Features: 1) Introduces various ethical systems, 2) Contrasts a Christian ethic with other ethical systems, 3) Deals with contemporary moral dilemmas, 4) Includes a new chapter on the moral agent, 5) Features adjusted and updated arguments and information to reflect the current philosophical landscape.

Themes from G. E. Moore

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These thirteen original essays, whose authors include some of the world’s leading philosophers, examine themes from the work of the Cambridge philosopher G. E. Moore (1873-1958), and demonstrate his considerable continuing influence on philosophical debate. Part I bears on epistemological topics, such as skepticism about the external world, the significance of common sense, and theories of perception. Part II is devoted to themes in ethics, such as Moore’s open question argument, his non-naturalism, utilitarianism, and his notion of organic unities. ~ Product Description • "A welcome addition to the re-evaluation of Moore’s philosophical legacy. The book as a whole is well-organized; the authors cover a wide range of topics related to Moore’s work in epistemology and ethics. The well written essays are timely and the authors demonstrate the contemporary relevance of Moore’s work by showing how his views illuminate current disputes. This book will be useful to experts in the field and is accessible to those who are new comers to Moore’s work." ~ William Tolhurst, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Objectivism, Subjectivism, and Relativism in Ethics

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Do we desire things because they are good, or are they good because we desire them? Objectivists answer that we desire things because they are good; subjectivists answer that things are good because we desire them. Further, does it make sense to account for moral disagreement by claiming, as the moral relativist does, that something might be good for one person but not for another? Some essays in this book consider whether objective moral truths can be grounded in an understanding of the nature of human beings as rational and social animals. Some discuss the ethical theories of historical figures-Aristotle, Aquinas, or Kant-or offer critical assessments of the work of recent and contemporary theorists — such as Moore, Putnam, Ayn Rand, Philippa Foot, and Rosalind Hursthouse. Other essays ask whether moral principles and values can be constructed through a process of practical reasoning or deliberation. Still others consider what the phenomenology of our moral experiences can reveal about moral objectivity. ~ Product Description

Paul Copan on Naturalism and Ethics

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Yes, many naturalists deny that objective moral values exist — that our moral impulse is nothing more than the product of a blind evolutionary process that selects out traits that enhance survival and reproduction. I such a case, morality is merely subjective. However, non-theists can and do endorse objective moral values — that rape or child abuse is wrong. These nontheistic moral realists will tell us, “You don’t need God to be good.” Yet the deeper question is, how did we come to be morally responsible, rights-bearing beings? Since all human beings are God’s image-bearers, they not surprisingly recognize the same sorts of moral values theist do. The basic issue, tough, is this: why think humans have rights and dignity if they’re products of valueless, physical processes in a cause-and-effect series from the bing bang until now? The more plausible context or scenario is that human value and moral responsibility come from a good God who created us as intrinsically valuable, morally responsible creatures.

Human Evolution and Christian Ethics

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Can the origins of morality be explained entirely in evolutionary terms? If so, what are the implications for Christian moral theology and ethics? Is the latter redundant, as socio-biologists often assert? Stephen Pope argues that theologians need to engage with evolutionary theory rather than ignoring it. He shows that our growing knowledge of human evolution is compatible with Christian faith and morality, provided that the former is not interpreted reductionistically and the latter is not understood in fundamentalist ways. Christian ethics ought to incorporate evolutionary approaches to human nature to the extent that they provide helpful knowledge of the conditions of human flourishing, both collective and individual. From this perspective, a strong affirmation of human dignity and appreciation for the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity is consistent with a revised account of natural law and the cardinal virtues. ~ Product Description

Douglas Wilson on Determinism and Reason

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But it is interesting that the same thing happens to you when you have to give some warrant for trusting in “reason”. I noted your citation of LaPlace in your book and am glad you brought him up here. LaPlace believed he was not in need of the God hypothesis, just like you, but you should also know he held this position as a firm believer in celestial and terrestrial mechanics. He was a causal determinist, meaning that he believed that every element of the universe in the present was “the effect of its past and the cause of its future.”

The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory

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The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory is a major new reference work in ethical theory consisting of commissioned essays by leading moral philosophers. Ethical theories have always been of central importance to philosophy, and remain so; ethical theory is one of the most active areas of philosophical research and teaching today. Courses in ethics are taught in colleges and universities at all levels, and ethical theory is the organizing principle for all of them. The Handbook is divided into two parts, mirroring the field. The first part treats meta-ethical theory, which deals with theoretical questions about morality and moral judgment, including questions about moral language, the epistemology of moral belief, the truth aptness of moral claims, and so forth. The second part addresses normative theory, which deals with general moral issues, including the plausibility of various ethical theories and abstract principles of behavior. Examples of such theories are consequentialism and virtue theory. As with other Oxford Handbooks, the twenty-five contributors cover the field in a comprehensive and highly accessible way, while achieving three goals: exposition of central ideas, criticism of other approaches, and putting forth a distinct viewpoint. ~ Product Description

The Happiness Hypothesis

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The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, lamented St. Paul, and this engrossing scientific interpretation of traditional lore backs him up with hard data. Citing Plato, Buddha and modern brain science, psychologist Haidt notes the mind is like an "elephant" of automatic desires and impulses atop which conscious intention is an ineffectual "rider." Haidt sifts Eastern and Western religious and philosophical traditions for other nuggets of wisdom to substantiate — and sometimes critique — with the findings of neurology and cognitive psychology. The Buddhist-Stoic injunction to cast off worldly attachments in pursuit of happiness, for example, is backed up by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s studies into pleasure. And Nietzsche’s contention that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger is considered against research into post-traumatic growth. An exponent of the "positive psychology" movement, Haidt also offers practical advice on finding happiness and meaning. Riches don’t matter much, he observes, but close relationships, quiet surroundings and short commutes help a lot, while meditation, cognitive psychotherapy and Prozac are equally valid remedies for constitutional unhappiness. Haidt sometimes seems reductionist, but his is an erudite, fluently written, stimulating reassessment of age-old issues. ~ Publishers Weekly

Moral Minds

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Marc Hauser’s eminently readable and comprehensive book Moral Minds is revolutionary. He argues that humans have evolved a universal moral instinct, unconsciously propelling us to deliver judgments of right and wrong independent of gender, education, and religion. Experience tunes up our moral actions, guiding what we do as opposed to how we deliver our moral verdicts. For hundreds of years, scholars have argued that moral judgments arise from rational and voluntary deliberations about what ought to be. The common belief today is that we reach moral decisions by consciously reasoning from principled explanations of what society determines is right or wrong. This perspective has generated the further belief that our moral psychology is founded entirely on experience and education, developing slowly and subject to considerable variation across cultures. In his groundbreaking book, Hauser shows that this dominant view is illusory. Combining his own cutting-edge research with findings in cognitive psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, economics, and anthropology, he examines the implications of his theory for issues of bioethics, religion, law, and our everyday lives. ~ Product Description

Arguing About Metaethics

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Arguing about Metaethics collects together some of the most exciting contemporary work in metaethics in one handy volume. In it, many of the most influential philosophers in the field discuss key questions in metaethics: Do moral properties exist? If they do, how do they fit into the world as science conceives it? If they don’t exist, then how should we understand moral thought and language? What is the relation between moral judgement and motivation? As well as these questions, this volume discusses a wide range of issues including moral objectivity, truth and moral judgements, moral psychology, thick evaluative concepts and moral relativism. The editors provide lucid introductions to each of the eleven themed sections in which they show how the debate lies and outline the arguments of the papers. Arguing about Metaethics is an ideal resource text for students at upper undergraduate or postgraduate level.

The Evolution of Morality

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Moral thinking pervades our practical lives, but where did this way of thinking come from, and what purpose does it serve? Is it to be explained by environmental pressures on our ancestors a million years ago, or is it a cultural invention of more recent origin? In The Evolution of Morality, Richard Joyce takes up these controversial questions, finding that the evidence supports an innate basis to human morality. As a moral philosopher, Joyce is interested in whether any implications follow from this hypothesis. Might the fact that the human brain has been biologically prepared by natural selection to engage in moral judgment serve in some sense to vindicate this way of thinking — staving off the threat of moral skepticism, or even undergirding some version of moral realism? Or if morality has an adaptive explanation in genetic terms — if it is, as Joyce writes, "just something that helped our ancestors make more babies" — might such an explanation actually undermine morality’s central role in our lives? He carefully examines both the evolutionary "vindication of morality" and the evolutionary "debunking of morality," considering the skeptical view more seriously than have others who have treated the subject. Interdisciplinary and combining the latest results from the empirical sciences with philosophical discussion, The Evolution of Morality is one of the few books in this area written from the perspective of moral philosophy. Concise and without technical jargon, the arguments are rigorous but accessible to readers from different academic backgrounds. Joyce discusses complex issues in plain language while advocating subtle and sometimes radical views. The Evolution of Morality lays the philosophical foundations for further research into the biological understanding of human morality. ~ Product Description