[lit-ideas] Re: Inner Moral :Law

  • From: Ursula Stange <Ursula@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 02 Aug 2005 14:42:28 -0400

Interesting post. If faith were required for 'knowing' right from wrong, we'd be hard pressed to find people without faith morally guilty of some of the most heinous crimes. We could still lock them away, of course, for their and our good, but we couldn't find them morally responsible. (So, instead of penitentiaries, we would have re-education camps...) This has the same kind of barbs as the discussion of free will and moral responsibility. Students are always most appalled by the thought that child molesters could be 'not guilty.' But of course, in that case also, society is justified in locking them away for the safety of the community.

Also interesting is Kant's assertion that 'the moral law within' is the best (perhaps only) evidence we have for the existence of God, the implication being that God planted the moral law within each of us, faithful or not. Instant responsibility.

Do those who think religion is required for morality assume 'any' religion or Christianity? The ten commandments? How silly.

Perhaps some will be interested in the 'other' ten commandments....

irreligiously yours,

John Wager wrote:

Eric Yost wrote:

Veronica wrote about Japanese TV: I found this quite interesting, in that the lessons of morality are not based on a religion, and certainly not the Judeo Christian version.

Eric: That's central to the _Euthyphro_ stuff. Socrates shows that belief in the gods (or God) need not be central to knowledge of morality or quality.

It shows that Ivan Karamazov may have been mistaken. God may (in some fictive modality) be dead, yet everything is NOT permissible.

The existence or nonexistence of God need NOT be foundational to a rational morality. That seemed like a good point to debate.

The whole issue gets a bit more complicated, though. St. Augustine, a respected figure in both Catholic and Protestant circles, claimed that all humans could know what was moral without any religious faith at all. He thought that one could not DO what was right without such faith, though. This complicates matters because many religious believers claim that beliefs about abortion, which non-believers might see as a religious belief, are in fact non-religious beliefs that "all humans" should recognize as wrong, following Augustine. If the religious right DID think that somehow faith were necessary for understanding the difference between right and wrong, it would be more difficult to hold non-believers responsible for their actions under laws that religious believers would want to be based on what the believers see as the morality that "all humans" should recognize, but that non-believers might say were particular religious beliefs.

In Catholic circles, this distinction usually takes the form of some kind of discussion of "natural law," while in Protestant circles this distinction turns out to be based on something like conscience or intuition of the good. But both camps would agree with the basic idea that everybody should know what's right and what's wrong without bringing religion into the picutre.
As a concequence, establishing the independence of the "knowledge of moralty" from religious belief would not do much to settle the current conflicts between the religious right and the rest of the world.

To change your Lit-Ideas settings (subscribe/unsub, vacation on/off,
digest on/off), visit www.andreas.com/faq-lit-ideas.html

To change your Lit-Ideas settings (subscribe/unsub, vacation on/off,
digest on/off), visit www.andreas.com/faq-lit-ideas.html

Other related posts: