I recently viewed an interesting conversation that captured my attention. The topic was concerned with the nature of objective morality and if such morality is provide to us by a transcendental law maker/giver. As such, I spent some time considering both sides of the argument to get a better understanding of each individual’s position. In doing so I typed up my thoughts on the conversation. Having spent this much time considering this, I decided to post what I came up with.
Original Statement from J.W. Wallace: Confusing Moral Unity with Moral Creation
Response from P. Stilwell: Bloating ontology with “moral facts”
Some thoughts on this conversation:
“So, even if I accepted the idea that humans evolved over time and embraced certain moral principles beneficial to their survival, I’d still be looking for the transcendent source of these moral concepts. Transcendent, objective moral truths (like “It’s never OK to torture babies for the fun of it”) were true even before humans were able to comprehend or acknowledge them.”—J. W. Wallace
In italics, Wallace is indicating how he would respond to P. Stilwell’s counter-argument. Whatever question P. Stilwell raises against objective morality, Wallace will continue to carry P. Stilwell’s evidence back to support a Transcendent Moral Law Giver.
“The introduction of objective morality is superfluous since emotions are sitting in plain view as an adequate explanation for the convergence/disparity among ethical positions we see in the world today.”—P. Stilwell
I do find this conclusion satisfying given the argument originally presented by Wallace, though I am not sure that making the point that emotions are our guide for morality is sufficient to undermine his implied message.
“The overarching nature of the moral law transcends the finite nature of humans; transcendent, objective moral laws require a Transcendent Moral Law Giver.”—J.W. Wallace
In response to P. Stilwell’s conclusion, Wallace can simply step back and say that the Transcendent Moral Law Giver is actually a Transcendent Emotion Provider, thus our emotional states are derived from the objective morals established by the TEP.
Basically, God provided us with empathy so that we would adhere to his objective morality and not torture babies for fun.
It seems to me that the morality that exists today does so not because it was beneficial to our survival, but because it was necessary for our survival or we would not be here to talk about it. This is similar to the fine-tuned universe argument. The universe is finely tuned because if it were not, we would not be here. This still does not prove that the universe had a tuner.
Because Wallace admits that he would “still be looking for the transcendent source of these moral concepts” before concluding the transcendent, objective moral laws require a TMLG, he is begging the question thus the original argument is invalid.
In response to my considerations, P. Stilwell clarified my worries with this statement:
It’s fine if he wants to back up to the much weaker argument that emotions were given by a transcendent moral law-giver. He is then forced to account for emotions in presumably non-moral animals, and he is then admitting moral laws are not self-evident, but must be consciously traced back to their foundational emotions.
But my argument that the non-consensual moral judgments to moral questions stands. You can’t have a just god condemning those subject to moral facts for violating moral “facts” they are confused or wrong about.
- God or Moral Meaninglessness? (renovationstory.wordpress.com)
- Can You be Good With or Without God? (canadian-atheist.blogspot.com)