Tuesday, November 02, 2010

From Eric Reitan; Moral Atheists,
Ethics Without [Explicit] Foundations
From Eric Reitan;

Often, the issue of morality is invoked by religious fundamentalists to villify atheists: There can be no morality without God, they argue; and hence, atheists must be amoral. The reasoning here is terrible, of course. Even if you think that the existence of objective moral truths in some fashion or another depends on the existence of a God, it hardly follows that atheists can't be deeply moral. Suppose there is ongoing uncertainty about the underlying physics that explains the force of gravity--and suppose that in a debate about this underlying physics, one side in the debate has the right answer. It doesn't follow that those on the other side of the debate don't believe in gravity (let alone that they behave as if it doesn't apply to them).

Somewhere, can't say where - actually several times! - I've seen Orthodox Jewish exponents propose that one can behave morally, but not be a moral Atheist. there seems to be an essentialism here that demands acts are good when, and because, they are Commanded - only Commandments can be considered good or moral, though they may in part be made up of worthy or productive behaviors, thoughts or beliefs, and only one who abides behavioral, ethical or ritual commandments as Commanded - can be considered moral.
A world of Jewish literature contradicts this position, though it does have a place there, and among other Divine Command approaches, not-so-ironically shared in the greater expanses of philosophy. An exception is often alluded to regarding most often that Jews may be considered abiders of Commandments even though their 'fulfillment' is not conscious; they may be doing a "good deed", acting ethically or abiding some other philosophical rubric - but if they actually do the act/belief, they are considered having fulfilled the given mitzvah as a mitzvah. More later.


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