Moral Argument

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info.gif Moral Arguments: "Arguments that God must exist as the ground of the moral order (or some aspect of that order, such as moral obligations) or as the explanation of certain moral facts. For example, some have argued that moral obligations consist of laws and that such laws require a Law-giver."

Evans, C. (2002) Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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    Adams, Robert M.

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    Moral Arguments for Theistic Belief

    "Moral arguments were the type of theistic argument most characteristic of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. More recently they have become one of philosophy's abandoned farms. The fields are still fertile, but they have not been cultivated systematically since the latest methods came in. The rambling Victorian farmhouse has not been kept up as well as similar structures, and people have not been stripping the sentimental gingerbread off the porches to reveal the clean lines of argument. This paper is intended to contribute to the remedy of this neglect."
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    Austin, Michael W.

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    Divine Command Theory

    "Philosophers both past and present have sought to defend theories of ethics that are grounded in a theistic framework. Roughly, Divine Command Theory is the view that morality is somehow dependent upon God, and that moral obligation consists in obedience to God’s commands. Divine Command Theory includes the claim that morality is ultimately based on the commands or character of God, and that the morally right action is the one that God commands or requires. The specific content of these divine commands varies according to the particular religion and the particular views of the individual divine command theorist, but all versions of the theory hold in common the claim that morality and moral obligations ultimately depend on God."
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    Basinger, David

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    Kai Nielson and the Nature of Theistic Ethic

    Atheistic philosopher Kai Neilson has argued that 'the nonexistence of God does not preclude the possibility of there being an objective standard on which to base [moral] judgments.' In this article, Basinger contends that "Nielsen's standard (and oft-cited) argument against the objectivity of the theist's moral code can be countered and that other, more sophisticated argumentation must be forthcoming if he is to make his case."
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    Beckwith, Francis J.

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    Why I am Not a Moral Relativist

    "I will first briefly discuss how moral relativism has affected our ability to engage in moral discourse. Then I will present and critique two arguments for moral relativism. Finally, I will argue that given the existence of objective moral norms, the God of theism is the best explanation of the source of their existence."
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    Beckwith, Francis J.

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    Philosophical Problems With Moral Relativism

    "In moral debate in the United States today, many people resort to moral relativism. They argue that there are no objective moral values which help us to determine what is right or wrong. They claim "everything is relative." In order to defend this position, the relativist puts forth two arguments: (1) Since people and cultures disagree about morality, there are no objective moral values; (2) Moral relativism leads to tolerance of practices we may find different or odd. These two arguments are seriously flawed. In addition, the moral relativist has a difficult time explaining moral progress, moral reformation, and clear-cut cases of moral saints and moral devils."
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    Byrne, Peter

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    Moral Arguments for the Existence of God

    "Moral considerations give all a reason to examine the proposition that there is a God very seriously. For if there is no God, morality is a more perilous enterprise than if there is."
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    Clark, Kelly James

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    Why Be Moral? Social Contract Theory vs. Kantian-Christian Morality

    "Apart from theism, the social contract theory provides a strong answer to the question “Why Be Moral?”.i According to social contract theories of morality, right and wrong are nothing more than the agreement among rationally self-interested individuals to give up the unhindered pursuit of their own desires and interests for the security of living in peace with one another...I shall argue that the social contract theory is motivationally deficient and that theism provides a better motivation for rationally self-interested persons to be moral."
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    Copan, Paul

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    Can Michael Martin Be A Moral Realist?: Sic et Non

    Copan argues against philosopher Michael Martin's attempts develop a "substantive ontological foundation for an objective morality within an atheistic framework", and responds to several of Martin's arguments against theistic and specifically biblical conceptions of morality.
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    Copan, Paul

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    Morality and Meaning Without God: Another Failed Attempt - A Review Essay on Atheism, Morality, and Meaning

    "Utilizing new material and old, Michael Martin (professor emeritus at Boston University) has written a stimulating four-part book, Atheism, Morality, and Meaning. Martin covers a good deal of territory to make his case for an objective ethic rooted in naturalism and to undercut the theistic/religious basis for objective morality. In the first part of this essay, I set forth the salient features of Martin's book, and in the second part I offer a response."
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    Craig, William L.

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    The Indispensability of Theological Meta-Ethical Foundations for Morality

    "Theism and naturalism are contrasted with respect to furnishing an adequate foundation for the moral life. It is shown that on a theistic worldview an adequate foundation exists for the affirmation of objective moral values, moral duties, and moral accountability. By contrast, naturalism fails in all three respects. Insofar as we believe that moral values and duties do exist, we therefore have good grounds for believing that God exists."
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    Frame, John and Paul Kurtz

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    Do We Need God To Be Moral?

    "If God goes not exist, says Dostoyevsky's Ivan Karamazov, 'everything is permitted,' which is one way of saying that notions of good and evil lose their force when people cease to acknowledge God. The course of our society suggests he's right: we've grown noticeably more secular over the past thirty years, banning God from public education and the marketplace of ideas, and our culture's moral tone has declined. Is this merely historical coincidence, or is there a profound relationship between ethics and belief in God?"
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    Geisler, Norman L.

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    Any Absolutes? Absolutely!

    "The Judeo-Christian concept of right and wrong, unlike non-Christian alternatives, is the only adequate basis for moral action. The reasons for this are many. First, while other ethical views can postulate good moral principles, only a Judeo-Christian view can justify them. This is true for two reasons: (1) Unless ethics is rooted in the unchangeable nature of a morally perfect being (God), there is no basis for believing in moral absolutes. Only an absolute Moral Law-Giver is a sufficient ground for absolute moral laws. (2) If everything is relative, then there is no good reason why anyone ought to refrain from doing anything he or she wants to do, including rape, murder, and genocide. Of course, humanists and others who deny moral absolutes can believe in general moral principles, many of which are noble.18 What they cannot do is justify this belief, since according to their system, there is no real ground for such a belief."
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    Graham, Matthew

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    A Defense of an Objective Morality

    "The project of this paper will not be to present the moral argument for the existence of God; rather, the project of this paper will be to explore and defend the premise 'an objective moral law exists'. Exploring this premise is not only crucial to the defense of the moral argument; it is also quite helpful in illuminating the richness of a moral and virtuous life. Reflection on the nature of morality and virtue gives one a deeper appreciation for the moral argument without reducing moral principles to abstract ideas whose sole purpose is to persuade the relativist of their existence."
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    Guthrie, Shandon L.

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    Immanuel Kant and the Categorical Imperative

    "Many philosophers of ethics prefer the objective ethics as taught by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. When we see how Kant's system implies the assumption of the Categorical Imperative in order to substantiate the objective nature of ethical decision-making, there appears to be a foundationless network created in the absence of God as the source of moral values. Without God, there can be no objective moral values."
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    Hare, John

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    Can we be good without God?

    "Morality as we are familiar with it in our culture originally made sense against the background of a set of beliefs and practices in traditional theism. In elite Western culture these beliefs and practices have now been widely abandoned. The result is that morality no longer makes sense within that culture the way it once did. There are two problem areas in particular that I will stress. The first is the gap between the moral demand on us and our natural capacities to meet it. This gap produces the question: Can we be morally good? The second problem area is the source of the authority of morality. This produces the question: Why should we be morally good? The traditional answer to these questions has been that God enables us to live in the way we should, and that we should live that way because God calls us to live that way. I will be looking at various kinds of incoherence that arise when these traditional answers are no longer available."
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    Hare, John

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    Is there an Evolutionary Foundation for Human Morality?

    "I am going to talk about the question of whether we can find an evolutionary basis for human morality. I am not a scientist, but a philosopher. So I am not going to try to pass judgment on the theory of evolution itself, as it applies to human beings. I do not regard philosophers as professionally competent either to pass a positive or negative judgment on the theory, except insofar as there are philosophical commitments embodied in it."
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    Hare, John

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    Can We be Good with God?

    "In this talk I am going to defend a divine command theory of what is morally right...In this talk I am not arguing for the truth of theism in general, or Christianity in particular, but I am going to assume that picture and argue from within it. This talk is about what is the best view of moral obligation that comes out of this picture."
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    Kreeft, Peter

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    The Argument from Conscience

    "The simple, intuitive point of the argument from conscience is that everyone in the world knows, deep down, that he is absolutely obligated to be and do good, and this absolute obligation could come only from God. Thus everyone knows God, however obscurely, by this moral intuition, which we usually call conscience. Conscience is the voice of God in the soul. Like all arguments for the existence of God, this one proves only a small part of what we know God to be by divine revelation. But this part is significantly more than the arguments from nature reveal about God because this argument has richer data, a richer starting point."
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    Lovell, Steven

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    C.S. Lewis and the Euthyphro Dilemma

    "The aim of this chapter is to rebut various objections to meta-ethical theories that essentially involve reference to God. I shall not be attempting to argue that such a theory is true, but only to rebut the mains objections to such theories, the most important of these objections being the Euthyphro Dilemma. I contend that there is a theistic ethical theory that is not undermined by this objection, or by any of the related objections that are explained below."
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    Lovell, Steven

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    God as the Grounding of Moral Objectivity: Defending Against Euthyphro

    "The Euthyphro Dilemma (is x good because God says it's good, or does God say x is good because it is good?), has been used as an argument against Theistic Ethics for hundreds of years. Plato was the first to use it. Since then Bertrand Russell, Kai Nielsen and many others have sought to really push it home. My aim in this paper is to show that the dilemma (as posed by both Russell and Nielsen) is a false one. Theistic ethics does survive the euthyphro dilemma. I take up and defend Aquinas' (?) position: that God himself (or his nature) is the standard of goodness, and not his commands. This position avoids the dilemma since God's commands / morality will not be arbitrary (since they are/it is rooted in God's nature), and Goodness will not be in any sense anterior to God either."
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    Moreland, J. P.

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    The Ethical Inadequacy of Naturalism

    "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to recognize that our society is in a state of moral chaos. The simple fact that Jerry Springer and his talk show competitors are such popular theaters of moral expression is enough to send shivers down the spine of anyone with an ounce of moral sensibility. This moral chaos should come as no surprise to Christians who know well that there is a deep connection between the world view of a culture and its moral beliefs and behaviors. The shift from a Judeo-Christian worldview to a naturalistic one is what lies behind much of the moral chaos we now face."
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    Murray, Michael J.

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    Do Objective Ethical Norms Need Theistic Grounding?

    "In this paper we have taken a brief tour of a variety of arguments aiming to show that ethics requires or is best explained by theism. While some of the arguments are suggestive merely of supernaturalism, others come closer to requiring something like theism. Still, each of these arguments seems in need of further support from their respective defenders."
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    Rea, Michael C.

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    Naturalism and Moral Realism

    "My goal in this paper is to show that naturalists cannot reasonably endorse moral realism. In defending this conclusion, I mean to contribute to a broader anti- naturalistic project. Elsewhere (Rea 1998, 2002), I have argued that naturalists must give up realism about material objects, materialism, and perhaps even realism about other minds. Materialism aside, I take realism about material objects and realism about other minds to be important parts of our commonsense metaphysics. Likewise, I take moral realism to be an important part of commonsense morality."
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    Suddoth, Michael C.

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    Is it Coherent to Suppose that God is both Morally Good and "Above Morality"?

    "In the present paper I want to consider whether it is coherent to suppose both that God is morally good and that God is, in some sense, above morality...I will be arguing for a position which I think best captures the intuition guiding those who have taken the first horn of the Euthyphro dilemma, though--as I will argue--we need not take the first horn to save God's sovereignty. I hope to show that belief in standards of goodness conceptually distinct from God's will, suggested by the second horn of the dilemma, do not entail standards independent of or more ultimate than God Himself."