On Naturalism, Why Do We Have Particular Moral Dispositions?
It has become something of a leitmotif among evangelical apologetes to argue that morality can have no objective foundation if there is no God. Such is the argument of Arnhart’s book Darwinian Natural Right, which Fales carefully reviews.
In this review of Michael Shermer’s most recent attempt to ground secular ethics in evolutionary biology, Kenneth Krause outlines some of the highlights of The Science of Good and Evil before turning to a discussion of some of its deficiencies. Among the former is the emphasis that moral problems “must be subjected to rational scrutiny,” that moral sentiments and behaviors arose from evolution rather than God (and exist outside of us in this limited sense), and that while religion may have had limited success in “identifying universal moral and immoral thoughts and behaviors” and canonizing them, religion did not generate them. Krause then turns to a survey of empirical evidence for the thesis that “monotheism has proved an ineffectual prescription for morality,” finally noting statistics showing that widespread American belief in God hasn’t improved social problems like crime rates. This paves the way for Shermer’s secular alternative. Many of Shermer’s points were not original, but still valuable since they clearly “cannot be repeated enough,” and his core standards are fairly intuitive and thus hardly revolutionary.
Jeffery Jay Lowder maintains this page.