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Booknotes: Good Without God

June 7th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Review of Epstein’s Good Without God
The idea that morality requires no theism is actually a Kantian idea.
In fact dogmatic theists and dogmatic atheists are equally a problem for moral discussions. Atheists who wish to discuss ethics need to have a clear discussion of Nietzsche and not bluff their way through on the way to nihilism.

This book express (unwittingly) one of the classic strains of philosophy in the discussion of morality: the idea that morality stands beyond divinity is a Kantian one, and it is important to consider that the idea of morality without god was first proposed by religious thinkers, if Kant can be considered a religious philosopher (along with being a secularist par excellence). The idea that a divine agent muust enforce morality by divine decree was long seen to make the whole of morality problematical.
I think that an equal confusion can arise from a purely atheist insistence on the basis of morality. We must completely detach the idea of morality from discussions of atheism/atheism. One of the problems with much contemporary discussion from figures such as the New Atheists is that morality is made to vanish under the canons of scientism, reductionism, and Darwinian evolutionism. This is as destructive of morality as the authoritarian theism foundationalizing religious morality. So it is ironic that authoritarian theism and scientific reductionism are both a problem for moral thinking, which must be founded on the idea of the freedom of the individual to be a moral agent.

Tags: Booknotes · ethics · Kant

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kant and morality beyond theism | Kant’s Challenge // Jun 7, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    […] Kantian morality and theism/atheism: book review […]

  • 2 LMT // Jun 8, 2010 at 6:22 am

    Kant on the surface seems like a theist, but he is different sort of ‘atheist’
    who sees the metaphysics of the question.
    Does he not revinvent a god for atheists under the banner of morality?

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