Religion and Morality Inter-relationships Relationships Is it true that morality depends on religion , even that it cannot be understood in the context of religion? Ivan.

Religion and Morality
Is it true that morality
depends on religion , even that
it cannot be understood in the
context of religion?
Ivan Karamoazov-”If God does
not exist, everything is
permissible.” (Moral nihilism)
 Major ethical theories have been
developed independently.- Autonomy
Morality does not originate with God.
 Rightness and wrongness are not based
simply on God’s will.
 Essentially, there are reasons for acting
one way or the other which may be
known independently of God’s will.
 Are Religious Ethics essentially different from
secular ethics?
 Kant argues that there is no difference- both God
and humanity have to obey the same rational
principles and reason is sufficient to guide us to
these principles. What is good is good will- acting
according to principles- Categorical Imperative.
 In fact, God and immorality are necessary
postulates of ethics- ought implies can. Must be
able to reach moral perfection- not possible in finite
life. God provides universal justice.
Religion is Irrelevant to Morality
 Bertrand Russell- humans are free to think,
evaluate, create, and live committed to ideals.
Life has the meaning we give it, and morality
will be part of any meaningful life.
 James Rachels: In worshipping God believers
relinquish their autonomy. One gives up their
reason. Rachels and Nowell-Smith contend that
religious morality is infantile because it is based
on authority.
Religious Morality
 Method of moral reasoning- “moral
point of view.”- impartiality.- Golden
Rule- consistency in our actions.reciprocity.
 Emphasis on relationships- to others
in terms of Love and respect- Love
your Neighbors- what means?
Religious Morality
 Set of beliefs affirming the reality of
moral retribution.- recompense- why
be moral?- Karma, Punishment
 Identifies ways to overcome “moral
paralysis” and “despair about moral
failure”- grace, atonement, assistance,
Religion and Moral Goals
 Cosmic justice= summum bonum= happiness is
proportional to virtue.- Kant – there must be a God
to make this possible.
 Humans desire happiness by nature- to be happy is
to have nothing left to will- Aquinas- to have a total
vision of reality= Beatific vision of God- necessary
if nature to be fulfilled. Thomas- human desires and
aims irremediably thwarted without God; this
cannot be the case.
 Camus- “Myth of Sisyphus”- No God- so human
desires can be irremediably thwarted- absurdity of
Religion Enhances Moral Life
 If there is a god, good will win over evil.- not
fighting alone. (James, Royce)
If God, exists, then cosmic justice reigns- Kant.
If theism is true, moral reasons always override nonmoral reasons. (Gauguin abandoned family)
If theism is true, then there is a God who loves and
cares for us.
If there is a God who created us in his image, then
all persons are of equal worth.
Divine Command Theory
 An act is morally required (right) just
in case God commands us to do it.
 An act is morally wrong just in case
God forbids us to do it.
 An act is permissible just in case God
neither commands nor forbids it.
 Moral rightness= willed by God.
 How does merely commanding
something make it rights Is this good because God commands
it or does God command it because it
is morally right?
 Can we be in doubt about what God
commands- commanded to kill?
Natural Law Theory
 God created nature and the laws of
nature are in accord with God’s plan.
 Natural law is universal and the same
for all human beings at all times.
 These moral laws of nature can be
discovered by human beings.
 Thus, these are guides to human
moral action.
 Counterexamples to nature is good-
self-interest, disease.
 Confuses “is” and “ought”- what is the
case and what ought to be the casedescriptive & prescriptive- cannibalism.
 Conflicts with the notion of nature
proposed by science- not moral,
purposive, but cause and effect.
Confucian Virtue Ethics
 “The only purpose a man can have and also the
only worthwhile thing a man can do is to
become as good a man as possible.”
 Ren- acting kindly toward others.- kind-
heatedness. This is something we can
become by cultivating our social,
aesthetic, cognitive and moral powers. It
is full humanity at its best.
Confucian Virtue Ethics
 Shu and zhong-not doing to other what
you do not want done to you and doing
what is best for others. Shu= seeing
someone else as being like yourself.=
 Xiao- familial love and respect- practice
of kindness, honor, respect, and loyalty
among all family members. Society= one
large family.

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