Christian Darwinism Ethics Intelligent Design

Morality and Peter Singer: Rules must be made and enforced from outside the conflict

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Noticing what Steno did here, that animal rights activist philosopher Peter Singer is moving toward the idea that morality has an objective basis, anti-ID Catholic philosopher Ed Feser responds. Noting that Singer is looking for an “intuitive” basis for morality, he writes,

Moral intuitions track objective moral truth in only a very rough, general, and mutable way. Practically they are useful – that is why nature put them into us – and they might provide a useful heuristic when philosophically investigating this or that specific moral question. But intuition does not ground moral truth, it is not an infallible guide to moral truth, and it should never form the basis of a philosophical argument for a controversial moral position.

But that won’t work. If “nature” put the intuitions into us, they could be any intuitions at all, unrelated to morality or even survival.

The Darwinist will, of course, want to say that our intuitions help us survive and pass on our genes. But the fact is, many life forms, corporately and individually, fail to survive by their intuitions. Real rules must be enforced from outside the conflict. So “objective”, as it happens, must mean outside and beyond nature. Then nature does not in fact do any putting in, except as directed. But presumably, the fiction that nature does something must be maintained; otherwise, people might think it was design.

Note: Here’s a look at the first step toward Singer’s change of mind: Caring for his aged mother.

5 Replies to “Morality and Peter Singer: Rules must be made and enforced from outside the conflict

  1. 1
    DonaldM says:

    Singer is a very confused guy. Its easy to pontificate on philosophical speculations on morals and ethics from the armchair. Living with those pontifications in real life is another matter…as Singer is discovering with aged mom. Like so many others, Singer pontificates a moral philosophy he himself can not live out.

  2. 2
    uoflcard says:

    Precisely, DonaldM. Perhaps one can make a compelling argument based on logic, but we are not purely logical beings. Love is more than a mysterious yet mechanical output of electricity in our brains. Peter Singer’s world view is logical yet unlivable. Watch someone kill your newborn daughter and try to comfort yourself with the thought that she lacked “rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness”, therefore it is not as bad as if she’d been killed when she was 10 years old.

  3. 3
    tgpeeler says:

    Singer’s world view may be advertised as logical but it’s anything but…

  4. 4
    Ilion says:

    As I often point out —

    We Christians frequently fail to live up to the morality we espouse.

    On the other hand, so-called atheists frequently fail to live down to the anti-morality they espouse.

    And, thank God for that.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    llion, there is an old joke of a staunch Christian dying and going to heaven, and when he gets there he is very surprised by all the people he had scorned being there, i.e. drunks, gamblers, loose women, etc.. etc.., as well he was surprised by the silence of these people. So he asks St. Peter what’s up with all these people being in heaven and why are they so silent? St. Peter says, well they knew they weren’t perfect and trusted in God’s mercy anyway despite their serious shortcomings. The reason they are so silent is that they are shocked to see you here!!! 🙂

    Let it rise – music video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVq_GKukA8I

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