bookmark_borderPlease Welcome Victor Stenger to the Secular Outpost

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Victor Stenger has graciously agreed to join the Secular Outpost as an occasional contributor. Stenger is Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Hawaii and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado. He has written numerous books and articles, including New York Times bestseller God: The Failed Hypothesis, as well as The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning, The New Atheism, Quantum Gods, Has Science Found God?, and more (click here for links to books by Stenger and all Secular Outpost contributors). Stenger is also an occasional blogger for The Huffington Post (see here).

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Stenger!

bookmark_borderLINK: “God and Moral Law” by Mark Murphy

Though I disagree with his conclusions, I’ve always respected the writings of Christian philosopher Mark Murphy on the relationship between God and morality. He has written a book, God and the Moral Law: On the Theistic Explanation of Morality, which will be published by Oxford University Press early next year. Based on the description of the book, it sounds extremely interesting. Murphy criticizes natural law theory and divine command theory, which are the most dominant theistic accounts of morality.

In their place, he defends a new theistic account of morality, which is apparently analogous to how many theists have traditionally understood the relationship between God and the laws of nature. In an attempt to find out more about his new theistic account of morality, I did a web search and discovered a paper he read at Notre Dame’s Center for Philosophy of Religion, “God and Moral Law,” which appears to provide an overview of his approach. Anyone interested in the relationship between God and morality will surely want to read this.

bookmark_borderLINKS: Ethics without God

(Another item from the backlog in my Drafts folder, with some more recent links added in.)

Here are some very interesting links related to ethics without God.

1. From Daniel Dennett: Robert Wright interviewed Daniel Dennett on being good without God. Video of the interview is available here; a transcript is available here.
2. From Tom Clark: Tom Clark from the Center for Naturalism blogs about “Naturalism and Nihilism.”
3. From Alonzo Fyfe: Alonzo Fyfe, of Atheist Ethicist fame, finally published his book, A Better Place: Selected Essays on Desire Utilitarianism. It’s a book defending moral realism without God, even assuming that no intrinsic values exist. I have not read Fyfe’s book, but it certainly looks interesting.
4. From Larry Arnhart: author of Darwinian Natural Right. Several essays of interest, including, “The Darwinian Meaning of Life“, “Does Darwinism Make Morality Fictional?“, “Darwinian Ethics and the Moral History of 20th Century Barbarism“, “The Evolutionary Biology of Empathy“, “A Darwinian History of Human Rights and Empathy“, “Remi Brague on Divine Law & Common Morality“, and “Does the Life of the Mind Require a Platonic Cosmology?


bookmark_borderLINKS: Theistic Defenses Against the Euthyphro Dilemma

(Another item from the backlog in my Drafts folder)

I’ve discovered two essays online and one essay offline which provide interesting responses to the Euthyphro dilemma.

1. Steve Lovell, “God as the Grounding of Moral Objectivity: Defending Against the Euthyphro.”
2. Michael Sudduth, “Is it Coherent to Suppose that God is both Morally Good and ‘Above Morality’?” (2004)
3. William Alston, ““Some Suggestions for Divine Command Theorists.” In Christian Theism and the Problems of Philosophy, ed. Michael D. Beaty. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990, 303-326.

Since #3 is not available online, I’ll attempt to provide a brief summary here.

William Alston splits the horns of the Euthyphro dilemma by taking different horns for different moral concepts. Alston divides moral concepts into two groups: axiological and deontological. Axiological concepts include things like moral goodness and badness, while deontological concepts include things like moral obligation, duty, and ought. Alston argues that deontological concepts depend on God’s commands, while axiological concepts depend on God himself. Alston summarizes his strategy as follows:

“It only remains to set out explicitly the relationship between the positions I have suggested to escape each of the two horns. That relationship derives from the distinction between value and obligation, more specifically the moral forms thereof. To blunt the first horn I have suggested that we take divine commands to be constitutive only of moral obligation, only of facts of the form ‘S morally ought to do A’, ‘S morally ought not to do B’, and ‘S is morally permitted to do C’, leaving value and goodness, moral and otherwise, to be otherwise constituted. … To deal with the second horn, and to fill out the view with an account of goodness and value, we take it that the supreme standard of goodness, including moral goodness, is God Himself, that particular individual, rather than some general principle or Platonic idea.”

Wes Morriston has written an interesting article that partially discusses Alston’s approach. As I read him, Morriston mainly focuses on what Alston has to say about the relationship between axiological concepts and God, not deontological concepts and God. Morriston isn’t impressed. Commenting on Alston’s approach (and William Lane Craig’s similar approach), he concludes:

What Alston and Craig have done is simply to substitute necessary truths about God for necessary truths about moral goodness. But even if this has the effect of making all moral truths depend on God, it is not sufficient to put them under his control. In this crucial respect, the God-centered analysis of moral goodness does no more than a Platonist account to protect divine sovereignty.