Upon my reading of “Objective Morality after Darwin (and without God)?”, I came to find a number of new evidences supporting my side of a person not needing God to be a good person. It provided me with new arguments I hadn’t thought of, and a concession to a previous argument, one which I discussed in previous Youth Voices post, with a rebuttal. Olli-Pekka Vainio, in his arguments, opened up more doors of persuasion for me to explore in my own essay.
He begins his essay by defining the difference between what moral realism is and what anti-realism. Basically, moral realism refers to the idea that morality is independent of ourselves, and our free will. Moral anti-realism is the polar opposite in saying that morality is completely oriented around what we have come to know in our own experiences and life. Naturally, empirical science pushes us towards accepting the idea of anti-realism morality, or the idea that we control how we see our own sense of morality. Tying this idea into my own essay topic, this means that an atheistic view would be able to shift and change perspective based on his or her own experiences. Now, this was used as an argument for why god was needed in order to be a good person, and I discussed and provided my own counter argument to that in a previous post. In this essay, however, Kerry Walters provides not only a counter argument, but uses it to further use logos in support of his position. By saying that atheistic values are able to remain flexible, they “will also be flexible enough to take into consideration extenuating circumstances arising from context, agent, and situation.” So, a reasonable atheist would be able to see a person faced with extreme circumstances and not condemn them for the choices they make, but be able to see the situation that faced them before passing judgement. For example, a moral realist might find herself getting an abortion and consider herself an immoral person, regardless of the situation that faced her because her sacred text told her so. On the other hand, a moral anti-realist is able to look at the context in which she is getting an abortion. She perhaps doesn’t want to ruin her chance at an education, raise a child alone, or work another job to support her child. She would be able to take a look at her difficult situation and be okay with her decision.
Vainio goes on to further discuss why we, as humans, would not have faired well, evolutionarily speaking, to have held a moral code from God. What it basically comes down to is that our brains were, and still are, survival oriented. What is considered immoral is oftentimes what allowed us to survive. We naturally want to kill in order for us to eat. We naturally want to have sex in order to reproduce. We naturally want to steal in order to benefit ourselves. These ‘immoral’ things are what allowed our species to make it so far down the evolutionary chain. Because of this, “moral anti-realism is the only available meta-ethical theory for us”. There is nothing morally wrong in bad acts other than hurting others without any personal gain. As the author quotes Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, “…what makes it morally wrong to murder, rape, steal, lie, or break promises, for example, is simply that these acts harm other people without any adequate justification.”
I found this article from the EBSCO database to not only be incredibly helpful to my own topic, but to also be a very interesting read. It provided a thought process which I never fully looked into on my own, and brought together a number of really good arguments.
Vainio, Olli-Pekka. “Objective Morality after Darwin (and without God)?” The Heythrop Journal, The Heythrop Journal, www.academia.edu/10638604/Objective_Morality_after_Darwin_and_without_God_.
Link to hypothes.is annotations of “Objective Morality after Darwin (and without God)?”: https://hypothes.is/users/totorobinson