Religion and ethics

opticlops's version from 2015-04-12 15:42

Section 1

Question Answer
What is autonomy The idea that morality is independent of religion: its principles are derived from reason and experience, without reference to religious beliefs
Is autonomy opposed to religion? Autonomous moral systems are not necessarily opposed to religion: it is simply that the system does not depend on religious ideas
What is an example of an autonomous moral system? Utilitarianism
What is moral autonomy consistent with?Moral autonomy is consistent with beliefs about human freedom
What does moral autonomy rule out? Moral autonomy rules out the possibility of people behaving morally either out of fear of punishment or hope of reward (‘heaven’ & ‘hell’), motivations which undermine the nature of truly moral action

Section 2

Question Answer
What is heteronomy? Morality that depends on religious belief or presupposes values given by religion rather than by reason and experience
Example of heteronomyAn example would be Roman Catholic Canon Law – 2414 rules which deal with details of behaviour and try to clarify the application of Natural Law
Why may heteronomy seem inevitableHeteronomy may seem inevitable since society has developed from a framework of religious beliefs
Why may good lead to heteronomy?As soon as we start to talk about ‘good’ and values we are dealing in ideas that have long been shaped in religious contexts
Why is it important to link morals with religion?The link with religion is important since religion recognises the dark side of human nature and takes this into account in promoting moral behaviours

Section 3

Question Answer
What is theonomyTheonomous morality derives values and principles direct from God. It does not involve the intermediate authority of the Church
What ethical theory could be theonomousCan be argued that Natural Law itself is theonomous since it is based on the idea of a creative source of all things which has imbued the universe with pattern and purpose
What can't be described literally?...Human impetus for morality & religion have a common source in an awareness of things that can’t be described literally
What have Thinkers as diverse as Iris Murdoch, Schopenhauer and G E Moore have all based their ethical systems on all based their ethical systems on something that could not be described rationally but could only be intuited or experienced
What is difficult to account for without a GodWithout some fundamental religious/mystical experience it is difficult to account for almost universal sense of moral obligation
What can believers argue that theonomy/ autonomy will lead to?Believers can argue that apparently autonomous ethics is, in fact theonomous: human reason (given by God) applied to the world (created by God) will discover something of God’s will and purpose i.e. a foundation for ethics

Section 4

Question Answer
What have some evolutionary biologists arguedSome Evolutionary Biologists (Dawkins, Michael Ruse, E O Wilson) have tried to argue that morality can be derived entirely from the evolutionary story i.e. that moral behaviours have evolved because they have survival value.v
What has Dawkins argued for?Dawkins has argued for a form of determinism in morality: we do what we are predisposed to do and call that moral.
What almost christian values have people like Dawkin's argued forHave even spoken of limited/kinship altruism as imprinted survival strategies
What does Dawkins concede to at the end of the selfish gene?At end of ‘the Selfish Gene’ Dawkins concedes that reason can overcome genetics
What does Keith Ward argue against Dawkins?Keith Ward (theologian and Scientist) asks Dawkins ‘If we can change what we are predisposed to do, in accordance with WHAT do we change it?’ Nature gives us no ‘oughts’, no concepts of justice and forgiveness
What does Peter Singer argue Peter Singer has argued that Christian ethics have actually held back our moral understanding and development
What has rigid teaching about sanctity of human life lead to?Rigid teaching about sanctity of human life has led to undervaluing and abuse of animals