June 24, 2015

Things are a bit different here as my web site has been modified once again to accord with my professional endeavors. For those looking still to access articles, they can be found - in one form or another - in either the "Publications" link or the "Popular Articles" link. Audio and video media can now be accessed via the "Media" link.

Doctoral Progress

All of my written material has been completed and finalized as of May 27th - right on schedule! The next step in the process comes in the Fall of this year wherein I will be traveling to England in order to complete my viva voce (oral defense). I am very excited to complete this process and to spend some time with my examiners who are well-known philosophers in the relevant field(s).

June 16, 2015

I thought I would offer up a brief response I had offered on Facebook to a post touting a secular foundation that would make ethics objective wholly apart from the existence of God. The original article (2013) can be accessed here.

My response: The author makes the same run-of-the-mill egregious errors in his assessment of Divine Command Ethics. For examples,
'To make the case that objective morals must be grounded in the existence of god, you have to show how the same morals would not produce the same effects without god, given the same set of axioms.'; 'To say god’s commandments determine objective moral values reduces you into believing that “might” makes “right”.' These are, of course, just wrong. He is not in touch with how theists both cash out Divine Command ethics and how Christians in particular live in accord with that ethos.

On to his theory: He says that 'goodness and its counterpart, evil, would exist in the absence of god because they are naturally founded in the real experiences that affect conscious beings.' He seems to derive this conclusion in part on the basis of having critiqued Divine Command Theory. But, specifically, it derives from the uncontested notion that goodness can be 'felt' in things other than God just as heat can be felt in things other than fire. As can be readily seen, the conclusion above is a non sequitur. And when he says that '[a]ll that is needed is the same given set of axioms that our universe contains such as the same laws of physics, and conscious life like human beings' he is assuming that God as a foundation is not one of those 'axioms.' Apart from the environment (i.e. the laws of physics, etc.), he means to ground objectivity in one's goal toward a collective 'well-being.' But ... well-being for *whom*? He answers that 'we must take into consideration several things. The first is the level of sentience or consciousness the species has, and second is whether or not this species is a threat to our survival and well-being. Recognizing the species’ relationship within the intricate web of the ecosystem is also necessary so that if we have to eradicate significant populations in order to ensure our survival, we do so only to a degree that is necessary without a disruption of the natural order.' As all animal rights activists (Tom Regan, Peter Singer, et al) have pointed out, it is itself arbitrary to make sentience instead of suffering the crux of who deserves 'well-being.' To use rationality as a privileged property of those best deserving of 'well-being' is about as objective as using skin color for the same!

It becomes apparent by 2.6 that the author collapses into some kind of Hobbesian social contract theory (not by name, however) or a reciprocating altruism wherein 'we can maximize the common interests when we all behave in such a way conducive to bringing this about, even though that may mean we have to sacrifice some of our personal interests.' At this point one can see that his ethical theory boils down to 'common interests' which appear to be the usual suspects: self-survival and happiness - that same old alternative secular ethicists have been touting all along.

Not only am I not impressed by his presentation, but he offers nothing new. And I am not sure how much different he thinks he is from the likes of Harris after all.