Religion and Morality
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But the point made by Plato centuries ago, that human reason is the final forum of judgment, is still widely accepted, since to subordinate reason to other considerations is to renounce the very possibility of rational discourse and justification.
The Universality of Moral Norms The writings of Western moral philosophers also reveal broad lines of agreement about the nature and content of morality. By and large, for example, these thinkers have not been impressed by the position known as "ethical relativism," which holds that basic moral principles or modes of reasoning differ substantially from culture to culture.
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While ethicists do acknowledge the truth of "cultural relativism," the view that accepted or prohibited modes of conduct vary among cultures, they have pointed out that this does not necessarily mean that fundamental principles are dissimilar. Different technical and social situations can cause common basic principles to yield different results in specific circumstances. For example, a general principle of respect for parents may produce a stringent ban on parricide in a technically advanced civilization but may lead to a custom of abandoning infirm or very elderly parents in hunter-gatherer cultures where there is no provision for sustaining the disabled and where dependency is regarded by all as shameful.
In contrast to the position of ethical relativism, most Western philosophers have subscribed to the essential universality of moral principles. This understanding, in fact, has several important meanings. First, it implies the descriptive point just made: Second, it implies the normative claim that not only is this so but that it ought to be so.
There is a universal standard of morality to which all persons are accountable. This standard is sensitive enough to the reality of specific circumstances to justify broad tolerance of differing social practices, but even so there are limits. Thus, where a strict ethical relativist might conclude that "right" and "wrong" are definable only by the norms of a particular culture, nonrelativists have pointed out that certain cultural practices are so heinous that they cannot be judged morally acceptable without violating human beings' deepest moral self-understanding.
For example, the fact that some societies have practiced genocide against minorities in their midst cannot be thought of as making this conduct right. Some things are wrong no matter how widely they are accepted in particular societies. Finally, morality has been regarded as universal in the sense that its rules and protection extend to all who are human.
Precisely because it is a reasoned method of settling social disputes and, hence, superior to force or coercion, moral discourse remains the preferred method of relating to all who are capable of this method of social adjudication. Warnock has expressed the logic behind this view: If conduct is to be seen as regulated only within groups, we have still the possibility of unrestricted hostility and conflict between groups—which is liable, indeed, to be effectively ferocious and damaging in proportion as relations between individuals within each group are effectively ordered toward harmonious co-operative action.
Thus, just as one may think that a Hobbesian recipe for 'peace' could securely achieve its end only if all Hobbesian individuals were engrossed within a single irresistible Leviathan, there is reason to think that the principles of morality must, if the object of morality is not to be frustrated, give consideration to any human, of whatever special group or none he may in fact be a member. The Moral Rules Moral philosophers also display wide agreement on the most fundamental rules of morality.
These include rules prohibiting persons from killing other persons, from inflicting injury on them, or from depriving them of freedom and opportunity. Other rules prohibit deception or the breaking of promises. All these rules presume that the recipient of the action in question has not voluntarily consented to it. Thus, a surgeon is not regarded as wronging a patient by cutting into his flesh, nor is a stage actor regarded as practicing immoral deception.
In addition, these rules are clearly held to apply only where the persons affected by one's choice have not acted immorally in a way that necessitates breaking a rule with respect to them.
While killing others or depriving them of their freedom is ordinarily viewed as wrong, for example, it may be justified when individuals threaten harm to others, as in criminal conduct or aggressive war.
These rules for personal conduct constitute only the minimum requirement for moral conduct. They are largely negative in character, prohibiting certain forms of behavior but not requiring positive efforts on others' behalf.
In addition to this, however, ethicists recognize supererogatory actions, performance of which is an occasion for moral praise but omission of which does not ordinarily merit condemnation or blame. These actions include forms of mutual aid, generosity, and self-sacrifice. Along with respect for the basic rules, attention to these supererogatory requirements is ordinarily held to enter into the character ideals or standards of virtue that form part of a full system of ethics.
Such ideals are separate from, but conceptually dependent upon, the understanding of right acts, since virtuous individuals are those who can be counted upon habitually to do what is right. Kant's famous statement that the only thing that can be called "good without qualification" is the morally good will is not meant to identify the norm of right or wrong conduct for that, Kant believed, the test of the categorical imperative is required ; rather, it is directed to the assessment of individual moral worth.
In this connection, it is important to note that the intention of the agent plays a major role in evaluating conduct in terms of such character ideals. Since it is pointless to hold individuals morally responsible for the unforeseeable or uncontrollable consequences of their actions, the moral worth of persons is usually assessed in terms of what they intended to do, although morally acceptable intentions are ordinarily held to encompass reasonable prevision for consequences.
While moral theorists are widely agreed on at least the basic principles governing individual conduct and defining individual virtue, there is far less agreement on the norms or principles that ought to guide the conduct of social and economic institutions.
At least for the context of industrialized societies, various competing theories have been advanced to justify everything from laissez-faire through welfare state societies to fully socialist and egalitarian systems.
This is no place to settle a debate that continues to be one of the most heated in contemporary moral literature.
It is important to note, however, that the very basic condition that moral principles be potentially acceptable to all persons tends to support views acknowledging a significant degree of social responsibility toward those who, through no fault of their own, are seriously disadvantaged. Thus, even thinkers who minimize society's responsibility for social justice tend to endorse efforts to ensure equal opportunity and hardship relief.
The "Moral Point of View" Behind these specific rules, many philosophers have also discerned a way of reasoning that is basic to moral judgment. This involves, first of all, an element of imaginative empathy for the other persons affected by one's choices and a willingness to consider the impact of one's conduct on their welfare. In addition, it calls for a willingness to reason about moral choices in an impartial way, as though the agent were only one interest among all of those affected by a choice.
This perspective of impartiality is sometimes called "the moral point of view. Views that derive moral decisions from the presumed judgments of an ideal sympathetic spectator and those that see such choices as arising from the decisions of self-interested but impartial contractors are examples.
Why Should One Be Moral? Delineation and justification of the moral rules have been the principal focuses of most moral theory. Yet, beyond specific normative issues, a series of persisting questions has stood at the far side of ethical discussion and has been dealt with increasingly by ethicists, as the nature and content of the moral reasoning process have become better understood.
One of the most important of these questions is why one should be moral.
What is the relationship between religion and morality?
Because this question can easily be misunderstood, its full significance and the difficulty of answering it may not be appreciated. If it is asked in the sense of why people in general should think and act morally, why morality itself should exist, then, to answer the question, it is necessary only to point to the general usefulness of morality as a method of settling social disputes.
In this sense morality is in everyone's interests. Again, if one who has adopted the moral viewpoint of impartiality and empathy for others asks why he or she should obey the moral rules, then it is necessary only to point out that impartial persons would certainly advocate obeying the rules they would choose.
But if this question is asked in its sharpest sense of why one should adopt the moral point of view in the first place, it becomes exceedingly difficult to answer. This is especially true whenever acting morally occasions serious loss for the individual agent. Some philosophers have tried to answer this question in terms of the demonstrable longterm interest and welfare of the moral agent: They point to the social and psychic costs that openly immoral conduct or covert and hypocritical behavior can entail.
But others have rejected this approach either on the grounds that it is often not correct immoral people sometimes do very well or because it introduces essentially nonmoral motives into one's reasons for being moral. Some who argue this way have contended that no self-interested reasons should be given for being moral: For these thinkers the voice of duty, in the words of George Eliotis "peremptory and absolute.
These thinkers have argued that without at least some metaphysical or religious basis moral striving makes no sense. This basis may range from the minimal belief that morality is not pointless or futile, that one's efforts do make a difference, to the stronger belief that, however much it may appear true that good people suffer for their commitments, moral acts and dispositions are, in the ultimate scheme of things, acknowledged and rewarded. It is noteworthy that discussion of the question "Why should one be moral?
Hence, the separation of ethical theory from theology and philosophy of religion, which ethical theorists effected during the modern period, has to some extent been reconsidered. It is interesting that this development was anticipated strongly in the work of Kant. To be sure, Kant is well known for his emphasis on the rational accessibility of moral norms and for his insistence that moral commitment must be autonomous, in the sense that it must be based on respect for the dictates of reason and conscience rather than on norms imposed from without and enforced by external rewards or punishments.
Nevertheless, Kant's later writings, especially the Critique of Practical Reason and Religion within the Limits of Reason Alonewere focused largely on questions concerning the philosophy of religion. In these writings, Kant developed the position that, to make sense, moral striving requires belief in a morally intentioned governor of the universe this was Kant's "moral proof" of the existence of Godand he began to explore the relationship between ethics and themes in biblical theology.
Foremost among these were the issues of sin, repentance, and the possibility of moral righteousness. Kant's discussions here are dense, but it can be said that, in perceiving the need to ground moral commitment in voluntarily assumed religious beliefs, Kant also recognized the difficulty of providing any clear and incontestable rational justification for being moral.
Thus his work highlighted the difficulty of sustaining moral commitment and opened up, as never before, the prospect of rational persons' defecting from morality. Discussing this problem under the rubric of the "radical evil" of the human heart, Kant introduced themes that were later developed by Christian theologians like Kierkegaard, Barth, and Niebuhr.
Moral Theory and Religious Traditions This body of reasoned reflection on basic issues in morality and ethics provides a useful background for exploring the variety of concrete traditions of religious ethics.
Regarded superficially, these traditions display a bewildering variety of teachings and beliefs, making difficult any general conclusions about the relationship between religion and the moral life. But when they are assessed against the framework of concepts just presented, religious traditions display some common patterns. Moreover, identifying these common patterns also helps highlight some of the important differences between traditions.
In approaching these concrete traditions with the framework of ethical assumptions as a guide, one should keep in mind one other important consideration: In his book Beyond Beliefthe sociologist Robert Bellah has suggested that religious evolution, like the evolution of other complex systems, often involves movement from simplicity to greater differentiation of structure pp.
In terms of moral ideas, this suggests a development of greater sensitivity to the full gamut of specific issues and questions identified by systematic ethical theory. We shall see that questions or distinctions barely occurring to thinkers or writers within a tradition during its earliest phases emerge as important issues later in the tradition's life.
In addition to looking at traditions synchronically in terms of their structure at any given moment, therefore, we must also look at them diachronically over the course of their development. The Superiority of Moral Norms and Independence of Moral Reasoning As we look at the variety of religio-ethical traditions, it is striking that a sense of the distinction between religious, ethical, and even legal norms is often not present, and that when it is, it is often a late development.
Furthermore, because the very distinctions are lacking, traditions do not always assert the superiority of moral norms over specifically ritual or religious requirements. This does not mean that these ideas are not present; often they are implicit and can be discerned only by a careful examination of how conflicts between norms are handled.
As I have already observed, most historical traditions tend to see the normative structures bearing on human life as an integrated whole, wherein moral requirements are fused with religious, ritual, and legal norms. In this respect it is often strained to speak of Jewish, Hindu, or Islamic "ethics.
Incompletely understood as "law," halakhah is more properly thought of as sacred teaching or guidance, although it is also "law" in the sense that many of its specific requirements were upheld by public sanctions and punishments, when Jews were politically able to govern themselves.
In all, halakhah discusses specific commandments or normative prescriptions identified by commentators in scripture, including the Ten Commandments. While this body of norms does contain many requirements that are recognizably "moral," these are not clearly distinguished from what we would identify as ritual or religious norms. At a fairly late date in the development of the tradition, commentators would puzzle over why specific ritual commandments for example, the requirement that only the ashes of a red heifer be used in a specific ritual of expiation had been placed on a par with obviously important moral norms.
But the early tradition tends not to make distinctions of this sort, and even later commentators who were rooted in this tradition agreed that all the norms of halakhah were equally sacred and equally incumbent upon the pious Jew. In each case we have a legal-moral-religious teaching containing the totality of enjoined actions in an undifferentiated unity. Neither can it be said that many traditions display ethical theorizing in the contemporary sense of an effort to work out and to justify moral norms in rational terms.
Commentators on early Christian ethics have noted the striking difference between the tone of early Christian ethical writing and that of the surrounding Greco-Roman world. Whereas Greek and Roman thinkers were concerned with such questions as what constitutes "the good" for man and what patterns of conduct are most conducive to individual and communal well-being, Christian writers commonly established rules for conduct by citing biblical commandments, or by holding up as models for behavior exemplary persons in scripture.
Throughout, it is the hope for God's approval or the avoidance of his wrath that is pointed to as the principal reason for living a Christian life. As is also true for Judaism and Islam, not human reason but God's will remains the source and sanction for moral conduct.
It is true that in our era each of the biblically based traditions has developed bodies of systematic ethical reflection, and it is also possible today to find treatises on Buddhist, Hindu, or Jain ethics. Yet the separation of moral reasoning from other dimensions of the religious life is largely alien to all these traditions. In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the appearance of ethical theorizing initially represents a response to the authority of Greek and Roman philosophy.
Thus, some of the earliest thinking about the relationship between religious and rational norms in these traditions—as for instance Sa'adyah Gaon's Book of Beliefs and Opinions ce and Thomas Aquinas's discussion of the forms of the law in his Summa theologiae 2.
Similarly, modern efforts to develop statements of Jewish, Christian, or Islamic ethics are very much a response to initiatives in philosophical ethical theory. The authority of Western thought has had a corresponding effect in stimulating thinkers in African and Asian religious traditions to develop systematic approaches to ethics.
But in all these cases, writers are usually compelled to begin their discussions with the observation that the moral teachings of their tradition are inseparable from its theological, metaphysical, or ritual dimensions.
Are we to conclude, then, that the separation of ethics from these other aspects of religion is only a Western phenomenon, and one largely traceable to the classical philosophers of Greece and Rome? It is true that systematic, rational thinking about morality—ethics in the modern sense—does emerge primarily in the Greco-Roman world, although one might also speak of ancient Chinese ethics in this sense.
Interestingly, in both these cases it was partly the breakdown of an older religious ideal that prompted rational reflection on the human good a theme we shall return to later.
But while ethical theorizing per se may be culturally localized, a sense of the independence, special significance, and even superiority of moral norms with respect to other normative requirements is present throughout many of these diverse traditions. Criticism of purely ritual efforts to please God, for example, is one of the hallmarks of the Hebrew prophetic tradition.
A man who is not good, what can he have to do with music? Neither the prophets nor Confucius, of course, would eliminate ritual from the life they believed human beings were called to live. For both traditions of thought, a fulfilled human existence was a moral and religious whole. But their opposition to efforts to reduce morality to one lesser aspect of the religious life evidences their sensitivity to the importance and relative priority of the moral norms.
This point could be further illustrated within a number of diverse traditions, but it becomes even clearer when we survey the historical development of religious thought. Not only do traditions tend to highlight moral requirements as they develop over time, but major religious controversies and schisms giving rise to new religious traditions usually effect dramatic ethicization of aspects of the older traditions, thus indicating how important the issue is for diverse religious communities.
Many examples from the history of religions could be given: To be sure, each of these important moments of religious change involves more than moral reform nor are the allegations of the "reformist" tradition always correct.
But it is noteworthy that in each of these cultural contexts the effort to highlight and assert the priority of the moral norms is of such urgency that it could well be an important contributing factor to major religious change.
It is also noteworthy that in these quite different contexts change is always unidirectional; religions do not efface the distinction between religious and moral norms as they develop, nor do they subordinate moral requirements over time. On the contrary, just as a theoretical appreciation of the importance of moral norms would suggest, traditions move toward greater clarity about the distinctiveness and relative superiority of moral requirements. One final matter deserves attention: The supreme guide to conduct in these traditions, it is said, is God's command, and because this command is not always moral, these traditions are fundamentally opposed to any idea of the distinctiveness or superiority of moral norms.
Kant thought that humans have to be able to believe that morality in this demanding form is consistent in the long run with happiness both their own and that of the people they affect by their actionsif they are going to be able to persevere in the moral life without rational instability. He did not accept the three traditional theoretical arguments for the existence of God though he was sympathetic to a modest version of the teleological argument.
But the practical argument was decisive for him, though he held that it was possible to be morally good without being a theist, despite such a position being rationally unstable. In Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason he undertook the project of using moral language in order to translate the four main themes of Biblical revelation accessible only to particular people at particular times into the revelation to Reason accessible to all people at all times.
This does not mean that he intended to reduce Biblical faith to morality, though some scholars have taken him this way. Humans have an initial predisposition to the good, which is essential to them, but is overlaid with a propensity to evil, which is not essential to them.
One key step in departing from the surviving influence in Kant of Lutheran pietism was taken by Johann Gottlieb Fichte —who identified as Kant did not the will of the individual with the infinite Ego which is ordering the universe morally. He thought that Geist moves immanently through human history, and that the various stages of knowledge are also stages of freedom, each stage producing first its own internal contradiction, and then a radical transition into a new stage.
The stage of absolute freedom will be one in which all members freely by reason endorse the organic community and the concrete institutions in which they actually live Phenomenology, BB, VI, B, III.
One of Hegel's opponents was Arthur Schopenhauer —the philosopher of pessimism. Schopenhauer thought that Hegel had strayed from the Kantian truth that there is a thing-in-itself beyond appearance, and that the Will is such a thing. It is, moreover, one universal Will that underlies the wills of all separate individuals. The intellect and its ideas are simply the Will's servant.
On this view, there is no happiness for us, and our only consolation is a quasi-Buddhist release from the Will to the limited extent we can attain it, especially through aesthetic enjoyment. Right Hegelians promoted the generally positive view of the Prussian state that Hegel expressed in the Philosophy of Right.
Left Hegelians rejected it, and with it the Protestant Christianity which they saw as its vehicle. In this way Hegel's peculiar way of promoting Christianity ended up causing its vehement rejection by thinkers who shared many of his social ideals.
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Feuerbach thought religion resulted from humanity's alienation from itself, and philosophy needed to destroy the religious illusion so that we could learn to love humankind and not divert this love onto an imaginary object. Karl Marx —83 followed Feuerbach in this diagnosis of religion, but he was interested primarily in social and political relations rather than psychology. He became suspicious of theory for example Hegel'son the grounds that theory is itself a symptom of the power structures in the societies that produce it.
Marx returned to Hegel's thoughts about work revealing to the worker his value through what the worker produces, but Marx argues that under capitalism the worker was alienated from this product because other people owned both the product and the means of producing it. Thus he believed, like Hegel, in progress through history towards freedom, but he thought it would take Communist revolution to bring this about.
Kierkegaard mocked Hegel constantly for presuming to understand the whole system in which human history is embedded, while still being located in a particular small part of it. On the other hand, he used Hegelian categories of thought himself, especially in his idea of the aesthetic life, the ethical life and the religious life as stages through which human beings develop by means of first internal contradiction and then radical transition. Kierkegaard's relation with Kant was problematic as well.
On the other hand, his own description of the religious life is full of echoes of Kant's Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. Kierkegaard wrote most of his work pseudonymously, taking on the names of characters who lived the lives he describes. This life deconstructs, because it requires in order to sustain interest the very commitment that it also rejects. The transition is accomplished by making a choice for one's life as a whole from a position that is not attached to any particular project, a radical choice that requires admitting the aesthetic life has been a failure.
But this life too deconstructs, because it sets up the goal of living by a demand, the moral law, that is higher than we can live by our own human devices.
Friedrich Nietzsche — was the son of a Lutheran pastor in Prussia. He was trained as a classical philologist, and his first book, The Birth of Tragedy, was an account of the origin and death of ancient Greek tragedy.
The breaking point seems to have been Wagner's Parsifal. Nietzsche saw clearly the intimate link between Christianity and the ethical theories of his predecessors in Europe, especially Kant.
It is harder to know what Nietzsche was for, than what he was against. This is partly an inheritance from Schopenhauer, who thought any system of constructive ethical thought a delusion. To return to Britain, Hume had a number of successors who accepted the view which Hume took from Hutcheson that our fundamental obligation is to work for the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Four are especially significant.
William Paley — thought he could demonstrate that morality derived from the will of God and required promoting the happiness of all, that happiness was the sum of pleasures, and that we need to believe that God is the final granter of happiness if we are to sustain motivation to do what we know we ought to do The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, II.
Jeremy Bentham — rejected this theological context. He thought he could provide a scientific calculus of pleasures, where the unit that stays constant is the minimum state of sensibility that can be distinguished from indifference.
MORALITY AND RELIGION
Discarding the theological context made moral motivation problematic, for why should we expect without God more units of pleasure for ourselves by contributing to the greater pleasure of others?
John Stuart Mill —73 was raised on strict utilitarian principles by his father, a follower of Bentham. Unlike Bentham, however, Mill accepted that there are qualitative differences in pleasures simply as pleasures, and he thought that the higher pleasures were those of the intellect, the feelings and imagination, and the moral sentiments.
He observed that those who have experienced both these and the lower pleasures, tend to prefer the former. He realized that his education had neglected the culture or cultivation of feelings, of which hope is a primary instance Autobiography, 1.
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Mill did not believe, however, that God was omnipotent, given all the evil in the world, and he insisted, like Kant, that we have to be God's co-workers, not merely passive recipients of God's assistance. Henry Sidgwick — in Methods of Ethics distinguished three methods: Intuitionism which is, roughly, the common sense morality that some things, like deliberate ingratitude to a benefactor, are self-evidently wrong in themselves independently of their consequencesEgoistic Hedonism the view that self-evidently an individual ought to aim at a maximum balance of happiness for herself, where this is understood as the greatest balance of pleasure over painand Utilitarianism or Universalistic Hedonism, the view that self-evidently she ought to aim at the maximum balance of happiness for all sentient beings present and future, whatever the cost to herself.
Of these three, he rejected the first, on the grounds that no concrete ethical principles are self-evident, and that when they conflict as they do we have to take consequences into account in order to decide how to act. But Sidgwick found the relation between the other two methods much more problematic.
Each principle separately seemed to him self-evident, but when taken together they seems to be mutually inconsistent. He considered two solutions, psychological and metaphysical. The psychological solution was to bring in the pleasures and pains of sympathy, so that if we do good to all we end up because of these pleasures making ourselves happiest. Sidgwick rejected this on the basis that sympathy is inevitably limited in its range, and we feel it most towards those closest to us, so that even if we include sympathetic pleasures and pains under Egoism, it will tend to increase the divergence between Egoistic and Utilitarian conduct, rather than bring them closer together.
The metaphysical solution was to bring in a god who desires the greatest total good of all living things, and who will reward and punish in accordance with this desire. He thought this solution was both necessary and sufficient to remove the contradiction in ethics.
But this was only a reason to accept it, if in general it is reasonable to accept certain principles such as the Uniformity of Nature which are not self-evident and which cannot be proved, but which bring order and coherence into a central part of our thought.
Sidgwick did not commit himself to an answer to this, one way or the other. Towards the end of the century, however, there were more philosophers who could speak the languages of both traditions. The beginning of the analytic school is sometimes located with the rejection of a neo-Hegelian idealism by G. One way to characterize the two schools is that the Continental school continued to read and be influenced by Hegel, and the Analytic school with some exceptions did not.
Another way to make the distinction is geographical; the analytic school is located primarily in Britain, Scandinavia and N. America, and the continental school in the rest of Europe, in Latin America and in certain schools in N. We will start with some figures from the Continental school, and then move to the analytic which is this writer's own.
Martin Heidegger — was initially trained as a theologian, and wrote his dissertation on what he took to be a work of Duns Scotus. He took an appointment under Edmund Husserl — at Freiburg, and was then appointed to succeed him in his chair. In this sense he is the first existentialist, though he did not use the term.
On the other hand he is unlike Kierkegaard in thinking of traditional Christianity as just one more convention making authentic existence more difficult. In Heidegger, as in Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, it is hard to find a positive or constructive ethics. Heidegger's position is somewhat compromised, moreover, by his initial embrace of the Nazi party. In his later work he moved increasingly towards a kind of quasi-religious mysticism.
He denied like Scotus that the moral law could be deduced from human nature, but this was because unlike Scotus he thought that we give ourselves our own essences by the choices we make.
On this view there are no outside commands to appeal to for legitimation, and we are condemned to our own freedom. Sartre thought of human beings as trying to be God on a Hegelian account of what God iseven though there is no God. Moreover, we inevitably desire to choose not just for ourselves, but for the world. Therefore, I am responsible for myself and for everyone else. I am creating a certain image of man of my own choosing. One form of bad faith is to pretend that there is a God who is giving us our tasks.
To live authentically is to realize both that we create these tasks for ourselves, and that they are futile. The twentieth century also saw, within Roman Catholicism, forms of Christian Existentialism and new adaptations of the system of Thomas Aquinas. Gabriel Marcel —like Heidegger, was concerned with the nature of Being as it appears to human being, but he tried to show that there are experiences of love, joy, hope and faith which, as understood from within, give us reason to believe in an inexhaustible Presence, which is God.
Jacques Maritain — developed a form of Thomism that retained the natural law, but regarded ethical judgment as not purely cognitive but guided by pre-conceptual affective inclinations. He gave more place to history than traditional Thomism did, allowing for development in the human knowledge of natural law, and he defended democracy as the appropriate way for human persons to attain freedom and dignity.
Natural law theory has been taken up and modified more recently by three philosophers who write in a style closer to the analytic tradition, John Finnis, Alastair MacIntyre and Jean Porter. Finnis holds that our knowledge of the fundamental moral truths is self-evident, and so is not deduced from human nature. His Natural Law and Natural Rights was a landmark in integrating the modern vocabulary and grammar of rights into the tradition of Natural Law.
MacIntyre, who has been on a long journey back from Marxism to Thomism, holds that we can know what kind of life we ought to live on the basis of knowing our natural end, which he now identifies in theological terms. In After Virtue he is still influenced by a Hegelian historicism, and holds that the only way to settle rival knowledge claims is to see how successfully each can account for the shape taken by its rivals.
A different account of natural law is found in Porter, who in Nature as Reason retains the view that our final motivation is our own happiness and perfection, but rejects the view that we can deduce absolute action-guiding moral principles from human nature.
They are not Roman Catholic but they are strongly influenced by Aristotle and Aquinas. They emphasize the notion of virtue which belongs to human nature just as bees have stings. Hursthouse ends her book by saying that we have to hold onto the hope that we can live together, not at each other's expense, a hope which she says used to be called belief in God's Providence On Virtue Ethics, One final contribution to be mentioned here is Linda Zagzebski's Divine Motivation Theory which proposes, as an alternative to divine command theory, that we can understand all moral normatively in terms of the notion of a good emotion, and that God's emotions are the best exemplar.
We will return to the rebirth of divine command theory at the end of this entry. We select the desires, acts, and thoughts that we attend to morally, we recognize ourselves as morally bound by some particular ground, e.
Foucault criticized Christian conventions that tend to take morality as a juristic and often universal code of laws, and to ignore the creative practice of self-making. Even if Christian and post-Christian moralists turn their attention to self-expression, he thought they tend to focus on the confession of truth about oneself, a mode of expression which is historically linked to the church and the modern psycho-sciences.
He did not, however, tell us much more about what these new forms would be like. By analyzing the structure of communication using speech-act theory developed in analytic philosophy he lays out a procedure that will rationally justify norms, though he does not claim to know what norms a society will adopt by using this procedure.
The two ideas behind this procedure are that norms are valid if they receive the consent of all the affected parties in unconstrained practical communication, and if the consequences of the general observance of the norms in terms of how each person's interests are affected are acceptable to all.
Habermas thinks he fulfills in this way Hegel's aim of reconciling the individual and society, because the communication process extends individuals beyond their private perspectives in the process of reaching agreement. Religious convictions need to be left behind when entering the public square, on this scheme, because they are not communicable in the way the procedure requires.
In recent work he has modified this position, by recognizing that certain religious forms require their adherents to speak in an explicitly religious way when advancing their prescriptions for public life, and it is discriminatory to try to prevent their doing so.
Within contemporary Jewish ethics mention should be made of Martin Buber — and Emmanuel Levinas — Buber's form of existentialism emphasized the I-You relationship, which exists not only between human beings but out of that between human beings and God.
When we reject I-You relationship, we return to I-It relations, governed by our impositions of our own conceptualizations on objects. Buber said these two relations are exhaustive. Levinas studied under Husserl, and knew Heidegger, whose work he first embraced and then rejected. To meet the Other is to have the idea of Infinity Ethics and Infinity, 90—1. This term is problematic in various ways. As used within architectural theory in the 's and 's it had a relatively clear sense.
There was a recognizable style that either borrowed bits and pieces from styles of the past, or mocked the very idea in modernist architecture of essential functionality. In philosophy, the term is less clearly definable. The effect on philosophical thinking about the relation between morality and religion is two-fold. On the one hand, the modernist rejection of religion on the basis of a foundationalist empiricism is itself rejected. This makes the current climate more hospitable to religious language than it was for most of the twentieth century.
But on the other hand, the distaste for over-arching theory means that religious meta-narratives are suspect to the same degree as any other, and the hospitality is more likely to be towards bits and pieces of traditional theology than to any theological system as a whole.
Mention should be made of some movements that are not philosophical in a professional sense, but are important in understanding the relation between morality and religion. The civil rights movement drawing heavily on Exodusfeminist ethics, animal liberation, environmental ethics, and the gay rights and children's rights movements have shown special sensitivity to the moral status of some particular oppressed class. The leadership of some of these movements has been religiously committed, while the leadership of others has not.
At the same time, the notion of human rights, or justified claims by every human being, has grown in global reach, partly through the various instrumentalities of the United Nations. There has, however, been less consensus on the question of how to justify human rights. There are theological justifications, deriving from the image of God in every human being, or the command to love the neighbor, or the covenant between God and humanity see Wolterstorff, Justice: Rights and Wrongs, chapter Whether there is a non-theological justification is not yet clear.
Finally, there has also been a burst of activity in professional ethics, such as medical ethics, engineering ethics, and business ethics.
This has not been associated with any one school of philosophy rather than another. InPierre Bayle asserted that religion "is neither necessary nor sufficient for morality". For example, The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics says that, For many religious people, morality and religion are the same or inseparable; for them either morality is part of religion or their religion is their morality.
For others, especially for nonreligious people, morality and religion are distinct and separable; religion may be immoral or nonmoral, and morality may or should be nonreligious. Even for some religious people the two are different and separable; they may hold that religion should be moral and morality should be, but they agree that they may not be.
The proper role of ethical reasoning is to highlight acts of two kinds: For example, there is no absolute prohibition on killing in Hinduismwhich recognizes that it "may be inevitable and indeed necessary" in certain circumstances. In the latter case, a study by the Barna Group found that some denominations have a significantly higher divorce rate than those in non-religious demographic groups atheists and agnostics.
The ethnocentric views on morality, failure to distinguish between in group and out group altruism, and inconsistent definition of religiosity all contribute to conflicting findings. Furthermore, some studies have shown that religious prosociality is primarily motivated by wanting to appear prosocial, which may be related to the desire to further ones religious group.