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God and the Grounding of Morality

Kai Nielsen (University of Ottawa Press: October 1997), 230 pages.

These essays make a single central claim: that human beings can still make sense of their lives and still have a humane morality, even if their worldview is utterly secular and even if they have lost the last vestige of belief in God. “Even in a self-consciously Godless world life can be fully meaningful,” Nielsen contends. “What surely is most needed in order to make men clear sighted in confronting the official abuse of power, is that they should preserve the sense that the certification of something as legally valid is not conclusive of the question of obedience, and that, however great the aura of majesty or authority which the official system may have, its demands must in the end be submitted to a moral scrutiny.‎” (p.82)

Table of Contents

    • Introduction    1
    • Ch. 1    God and the Good: Does Morality Need Religion?    13
    • Ch. 2    Hobbesist and Humean Alternatives to a Religious Morality    23
    • Ch. 3    An Examination of the Thomistic Theory of Natural Moral Law    41
    • Ch. 4    The Myth of Natural Law    69
    • Ch. 5    On Taking Human Nature as the Basis of Morality: An Exercise in Linguistic Analysis    85
    • Ch. 6    Scepticism and Human Rights    101
    • Ch. 7    On Human Rights    119
    • Ch. 8    Grounding Rights and a Method of Reflective Equilibrium    125
    • Ch. 9    On Sticking with Secular Morality    155
    • Ch. 10    Politics and Theology: Do We Need a Political Theology?    177
    • Ch. 11    God and the Basis of Morality    209
    • Index    227