Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, Vol 23, No 1 (2015)

Morality Without God

Alan Mandelberg
Issued Date: 23 Nov 2015


This essay defends the basis of morality as held by non-believers by arguing that we just like believers learn our morality by learning our language – which necessarily involves learning about the world, the “forms of life”. First other attempts by Niose, Epstein and Harris to argue for humanist morality are considered and rejected, the latter rejection based on G.E. Moore’s “open question” argument against naturalism. Contrary to Hume’s contention that it is impossible to jump the logical chasm from “is” to “ought”, it is contended in this essay that to understand morally relevant concepts, one has to already understand that they are either good or bad because to learn one’s native language is to learn what sorts of actions are right or wrong. This allows critical judgment about what is right or wrong. Humanism is based on such critical judgment. That is what makes it most moral. Deciding which acts are right or wrong is a matter of deciding what relevant facts apply to the situation. Some corollaries of the fact that humanism is moral because it relies first and foremost on critical judgment are considered.

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DOI: 10.1558/eph.v23i1.26373


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