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Friday, December 5, 2008
Debate:"Is God Necessary for Morality?"
Debate :William Lane Craig (Christan Philosopher of religion)vs.Louise Anthony( philosophy of mind, the theory of knowledge)
Summary of debate:
Craig defines morality( some relativists might not agree with his definition but Dr Anthony appears not to be a relativist so she has no problem.)
He presents 3 aspects of morality
1)objective moral truths
and explains how theism makes sense of these things.He calls Dr. Anthony to account for these things also.He gives examples of how we can see sharks forcibly copulating and lions killing gazelles and how we don't describe these thing as having moral dimensions.He says that under atheism there is no reason why these things would be different should they happen to humans.Morals might just be a convention evolved within a species but are ultimately illusory. He kind of goes all over the place and attack hard determinism and materialistic reductionism.
Presents a good critique of divine command theory. She invokes the age old question of Plato and Euthypro's dilemma( the main crux of the argument).
"Is what what God commands moral because of some secular standard that exists independently of God, or because of of the fact that he commanded it?"
If the former then God is not necessary for morality and we can use a secular standard. If the latter then God's commands are arbitrary.
Craig: Takes Anthony to task on not accounting for the 3 aspects of morality he provided and only attacking his position.
He invokes Aquinas' response to the Euthrypo question and calls it a "false dilemma".
God , by definition is the greatest conceivable being and perfectly moral. God's perfectly moral nature is by definition just, loving...etc. Thus God's nature is the standard of moral goodness. God's will is but an expression of his perfect nature.
He uses the analogy with animals again.
Anthony appears not to be able to account for the first 2 aspects of morality(and seems not to care). She critiques the 3rd aspect as just looking at self-interest.Presents Euthypro's argument again.She says we are different from those animals in the sense that we are conscious and intelligent.
Takes her to task with not being able to account for them. Accuses her of confusing the ontological/semantic distinction in her critique of his position on Euthypro. Says that she does not show why these things (intelligence, conciousness...) are morally significant. He also asks what we should do to retarded people.Accuses her as being "biased to her own species"
Closes and talks about contrition and her experience as she became an atheist.
Overall it was a good debate.