Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Morality dependent on religion?

BTW there's also a great article by Hauser and Singer here on this same theme.

2 comments:

R. C. Sharma said...

I will not go into what Hauser et al have pronounced. I will quote from direct observation.

Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism ans Sikhism are major religions to arise in India. They have different perceptions about liberation etc. But they have EXACTLY the same set of ethical rules or guidelines or laws etc.

At least this living example proves that morality can be independent of religion.

R. C. Sharma,
rcscwc@yahoo.co.in

Chris said...

For showing how the moral claims of believers and non-believers alike are frequently independent of religious doctrines (particularly Judeo-Christianity) I like this article by Sam Harris.

However, in reference to the Hauser/Singer article, I'm getting tired of atheists passing off reductionist explanations of moral phenomena as a 'moral faculty' of the mind. It's not. It simply a beneficial adaptive strategy that explains certain behaviour but has no moral content (in the same way that reciprocal altruism isn't really altruism—it just looks like it).

Dawkins does the same thing in Chapter 6 of The God Delusion, and he has the gall to bookend it (before and after) with the observation that the Christian who behaves 'morally' out of fear of hellfire isn't behaving morally at all because they're not displaying moral agency. No, they're not behaving morally, but neither is the person who dives into a river to save a drowning child because they're hardwired to do so. The same argument applies to both.

I starting to notice this line of argument more and more frequently, and from people who know better. Hauser, Singer, Dawkins etc. are all-too-well aware that they're being misleading with these claims (at least Sam Harris openly acknowledges it - p.185, End of Faith). While I understand why they do it, I think they should just be open about the conclusions that current research is drawing.

Cheers,
Chris.
PhilosophicalMisadventures.com