Ethics for nonbelievers

Barry asked:

Is there a well recognised philosophical term for the point of view that morality is nothing more than a set of guidelines which evolved to facilitate social life?

Supplementary question:

Is it your impression that this point of view is not uncommon among nonbelieving philosophers?

Answer by Shaun Williamson

Morality is a human activity which is our way of trying to facilitate human life. It is not a set of rules which is concerned with how you should behave at parties or a set of rules that tells you how to be polite to other people.

I suggest you look at the films of the Nazi concentration camps which were taken after they were liberated. Then you see what morality is about and what good and evil is about. Its not much of a party is it?

When you talk about non believing philosophers do you mean philosophers who aren’t fanatical Jews or fanatical Christians or fanatical Muslims.

Just because someone is a believer that doesn’t make them a moral person. Being moral is a question of how you act not what you believe in. There are many believers who are evil people and the things they believe in are also evil.

One thought on “Ethics for nonbelievers

  1. No Shaun, by “nonbelieving” I didn’t mean non-fanatical, I meant simply, totally, confidently ATHEIST.

    You wrote: “I suggest you look at the films of the Nazi concentration camps which were taken after they were liberated. Then you see what morality is about and what good and evil is about. ”

    You and I are trying to think as clearly as I can. All the things that arouse strong emotion are barriers to clear thinking and are to be avoided when trying to think clearly. I don’t think films of Nazi concentration camps tell me what morality is about [though they’re not irrelevant to the question]. The powerful emotions they arouse don’t persuade me that Good And Evil are real or that ideas of Good and Evil are helpful/relevant to thinking about morality. I think such ideas generally confuse moral discussion and often lead it in the wrong direction. For example the UK Prime Minister’s speech about the recent mob riots in the UK; he thinks these actions are a moral outrage – just plain wrong – and I suggest this hinders him in searching for appropriate responses.

    Barry Simons

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s