Objective moral truth and killing ‘for the fun of it’

One of the difficulties of doing away with religion is the problem of the foundations of morality. One way of responding to the problem is to say that there are no ultimate foundations beyond what individual people or cultures think about morality. So morality is relative to individuals or to culture. It’s a very common view. This short article challenges that view with questions that (one hopes) reveal that most people do think some moral norms are objective. A transcendent or religious worldview is one way of explaining how morality could be ‘written in the fabric of the universe.’ I don’t know of any other way of explaining objective morality adequately.


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Objective moral truth and killing ‘for the fun of it’ — 1 Comment

  1. With respect to this post and article, someone asked on Facebook:

    I have a query in relation to the “Objective moral truth and killing ‘for the fun of it'” article which, as I interpreted it, addressed the issue that among humankind there are certain common moral truths. However I fail to see how the existence of these truths provide evidence to support the contention that these moral truths must be “written in the fabric of the universe”, surely their seemingly objective nature is just the result of the core of the evolutionary process in humans as well as all life on earth, that in order to evolve we must be able to survive? Therefore this “objective ” moral truth is actually subjective however extends across the whole human race?

    Just a query! Thanks for the articles!

    And my reply:

    Yes, it’s quite feasible that evolution produced beings that have a moral sense and that believe that certain things are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. But on those grounds ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are simply confusing terms for ‘dispositions that evolution has selected for’.

    Now take that a step further. There are lots of ‘dispositions that evolution has selected for’ that we think are not morally acceptable. Evolution has (presumably) selected for warlikeness and murderousness and adulterousness etc etc… In those cases we are reluctant to say that ‘what evolution has selected for’ is the same as ‘morally right’. In fact we often introduce moral standards over the top of ‘what evolution has selected for’ to decide whether something *ought* to be done or not.

    So it seems that we can’t look to evolution to give us our morality. Peter Singer (an atheist) agrees. Another example; Richard Dawkins says (in one place) that there is no good and evil, only pitiless indifference, though he does spend a lot of time talking about the evils of religion.

    So if evolution doesn’t give an answer to the problem of objective morality, is Dawkins right (there is no such thing) or is there another solution? Of course the religious believer says the moral law entails a moral lawgiver…

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