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Religion and Morality. Inter-relationships. Relationships. Is it true that morality depends on religion , even that it cannot be understood in the context of religion? Ivan Karamoazov -”If God does not exist, everything is permissible.” (Moral nihilism). Relationships.

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religion and morality

Religion and Morality


  • Is it true that morality depends on religion , even that it cannot be understood in the context of religion?
  • Ivan Karamoazov-”If God does not exist, everything is permissible.” (Moral nihilism)
  • Major ethical theories have been developed independently.- Autonomy Thesis
  • Morality does not originate with God.
    • Rightness and wrongness are not based simply on God’s will.
    • Essentially, there are reasons for acting one way or the other which may be known independently of God’s will.
  • Are Religious Ethics essentially different from secular ethics?
  • Kant argues that there is no difference- both God and humanity have to obey the same rational principles and reason is sufficient to guide us to these principles. What is good is good will- acting according to principles- Categorical Imperative.
  • In fact, God and immorality are necessary postulates of ethics- ought implies can. Must be able to reach moral perfection- not possible in finite life. God provides universal justice.
religion is irrelevant to morality
Religion is Irrelevant to Morality
  • Bertrand Russell- humans are free to think, evaluate, create, and live committed to ideals. Life has the meaning we give it, and morality will be part of any meaningful life.
  • James Rachels: In worshipping God believers relinquish their autonomy. One gives up their reason. Rachels and Nowell-Smith contend that religious morality is infantile because it is based on authority.
religious morality
Religious Morality
      • Method of moral reasoning- “moral point of view.”- impartiality.- Golden Rule- consistency in our actions.- reciprocity.
  • Emphasis on relationships- to others in terms of Love and respect- Love your Neighbors- what means?
religious morality1
Religious Morality
  • Set of beliefs affirming the reality of moral retribution.- recompense- why be moral?- Karma, Punishment
  • Identifies ways to overcome “moral paralysis” and “despair about moral failure”- grace, atonement, assistance,
religion and moral goals
Religion and Moral Goals
  • Cosmic justice= summum bonum= happiness is proportional to virtue.- Kant – there must be a God to make this possible.
  • Humans desire happiness by nature- to be happy is to have nothing left to will- Aquinas- to have a total vision of reality= Beatific vision of God- necessary if nature to be fulfilled. Thomas- human desires and aims irremediably thwarted without God; this cannot be the case.
  • Camus- “Myth of Sisyphus”- No God- so human desires can be irremediably thwarted- absurdity of life.
religion enhances moral life
Religion Enhances Moral Life
  • If there is a god, good will win over evil.- not fighting alone. (James, Royce)
  • If God, exists, then cosmic justice reigns- Kant.
  • If theism is true, moral reasons always override non-moral reasons. (Gauguin abandoned family)
  • If theism is true, then there is a God who loves and cares for us.
  • If there is a God who created us in his image, then all persons are of equal worth.
divine command theory
Divine Command Theory
  • An act is morally required (right) just in case God commands us to do it.
  • An act is morally wrong just in case God forbids us to do it.
  • An act is permissible just in case God neither commands nor forbids it.
  • Moral rightness= willed by God.
  • How does merely commanding something make it rights-
  • Is this good because God commands it or does God command it because it is morally right?
  • Can we be in doubt about what God commands- commanded to kill?
natural law theory
Natural Law Theory
  • God created nature and the laws of nature are in accord with God’s plan.
  • Natural law is universal and the same for all human beings at all times.
  • These moral laws of nature can be discovered by human beings.
  • Thus, these are guides to human moral action.
  • Counterexamples to nature is good- self-interest, disease.
  • Confuses “is” and “ought”- what is the case and what ought to be the case- descriptive & prescriptive- cannibalism.
  • Conflicts with the notion of nature proposed by science- not moral, purposive, but cause and effect.
confucian virtue ethics
Confucian Virtue Ethics
  • “The only purpose a man can have and also the only worthwhile thing a man can do is to become as good a man as possible.”
    • Ren- acting kindly toward others.- kind-heatedness. This is something we can become by cultivating our social, aesthetic, cognitive and moral powers. It is full humanity at its best.
confucian virtue ethics1
Confucian Virtue Ethics
  • Shu and zhong-not doing to other what you do not want done to you and doing what is best for others. Shu= seeing someone else as being like yourself.= reciprocity.
  • Xiao- familial love and respect- practice of kindness, honor, respect, and loyalty among all family members. Society= one large family.