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Flashcards in the moral argument Deck (20)
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What was Kant's starting point for the Moral argument?

Kant’s starting point was that we all have a sense of innate moral awareness:
‘Two things fill the mind with ever new increasing admiration and awe… the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me’


What is Kant's moral argument?

1. We all have a sense of innate moral awareness – from this we are under obligation to be virtuous
2. An ‘average’ level of virtue is not enough, we are obliged to aim for the highest standard possible
3. True virtue should be rewarded with happiness
4. There is an ideal state where human virtue and happiness are united – this Kant called the ‘Summum Bonum’
5. Moral statements are prescriptive – ‘ought’ implies ‘can’
6. Humans can achieve virtue in a lifetime but it is beyond us to ensure we are rewarded with happiness
7. Therefore there must be a God who has power to ensure that virtue and happiness coincide
Kant’s moral argument does not postulate that God is necessary for morality but that God is required for morality to achieve its end


What did Cardinal Newman say about the moral argument?

“We feel responsibility, are ashamed, are frightened at transgressing the voice of conscience, this implies that there is one to whom we are responsible.” For Newman, the existence of conscience implies a moral law-giver whom we are answerable to – God.


What are the criticisms of the moral argument?

• Moral laws may not be objective or about obeying moral duty. For Joseph Fletcher ignoring individual circumstances will lead to callous and unsatisfactory actions
• The moral argument does not prove the existence of God. Just because our conscience points to a source does not mean that source is God. Could be merely a being that devises laws – “a Kantian-minded angel”
• Kant’s assumption that ought implies can only proves that it is logically possible to bring about the summum bonum – just because it is not a logical contradiction does not means it actually happens


What does Brian Davies say about the moral argument?

Kant assumes that only God can bring about the summum bonum but it could equally be brought about by a ‘pantheon of angels.’


What is the Divine Command theory?

The theory that morality is absolute and dictated by God


What is the Euthyphro dilemma?

“Is something good because God commands it, or does God command it because it is good?”


If something was good because God commands it, what would that mean?

the content of morality is seemingly arbitrary and dependent on God’s whim – certain moral actions could have been deemed otherwise immoral had God willed it. Furthermore, this reduces God’s goodness to his power – to say that God is good simply means that he is capable of enforcing his commands.


What would it mean if God commands something because it is good?

then God is no longer necessary for an ethical system to work – the almighty Sovereign becomes subordinate to a higher law.


What did Freud argue that our conscience came from?

Freud argued that our conscience was a product of the unconscious mind or super ego of the human psyche.


How did Freud distinguish between the three components of the psyche?

1. ID – basic instincts and primitive desires e.g. hunger, lust etc.
2. EGO – perceptions of the external that makes us aware of the ‘reality principle,’ one’s most outward part and personality
3. SUPER-EGO – the unconscious mind which consists of:
a. The Ego-ideal which praises good actions
b. The conscience which makes you feel guilty for bad actions


Why does Freud argue that conscience can't be due to Divine origin?

For Freud, our moral awareness cannot be of divine origin because of the differing opinions on ethical issues – if it were morality would be absolute and we would all come to the same moral conclusions. Rather, our conscience or moral awareness is the super-ego of the mind, a ‘moral policeman’ developed during child hood (more specifically the third stage which is known as the phallic stage between 3 and 6 years old).


Why did Kant design the Moral argument?

Kant did not think of the Moral Argument as actual proof for the existence of God. The Moral Argument fitted in with Kant’s desire to seek a universal moral principle. He believed that morality and justice were governed by universal laws in just the same way as the laws of nature. This is the basis of his famous categorical imperative. Moreover, the Moral Argument, as it develops, fits in and supports his deontological ethical system. For Kant, humanity has a duty to be morally good. Like many of Kant’s arguments it is ‘a priori’.


What is Kant's starting argument?

Kant’s starting point is the assumption that the universe is inherently ‘good’. If the universe was not ‘good’ then morality would be meaningless.
However, it is evident that in the world it is not always the good who prosper and experience happiness. Quite often evil doers go unpunished.
In order to restore the balance of justice there must be the opportunity for the good to be rewarded in the next life. Likewise, there must be the opportunity for the evil doers to be punished.
Kant therefore argues that there must be an after life.
God must therefore exist to facilitate it.


What is Kant's second argument?

Our moral experience tells us that we are under an obligation to strive for the Highest Good. Kant’s second argument follows:
Duty - Morality demands that we strive for this Higher Good. If it is our obligation to follow the law, it is our obligation to aim for the highest goal of this law. Remember Kant is a deontologist.
Weakness - It is not possible for a human being to achieve this Higher Good with out assistance. Since we are not the ‘cause of the world’, we cannot bring about the Highest Good. Even if we could achieve perfect morality, we could not ensure the ‘necessary connection’ for the perfect happiness that would follow. Humans therefore lack the necessary power to bring about the Highest Good.
Assistence - God must exist to assist us in achieving this Higher Good.


What does Kant's second moral argument suggest about the existence of good and the afterlife?

It is illogical to have a Highest Good that is impossible to achieve. Kant therefore argued that it was logically necessary to accept both the existence of God, and of eternal life. God is the being that brings about happiness as a reward for virtue. Since happiness clearly does not come about in this life for the majority, there must be a life beyond death in which the reward comes.


What does Freud think morality is influenced by?

a person’s moral sense comes from the ‘super ego’ – an ‘inner parent’ which rewards good behaviour and punishes bad. The conscience is in fact the action of the super-ego. Actions that are normally thought of as being a matter of conscience are really determined by unconscious influences.


What did Freud think of religion?

For Freud, religion is merely an obsessional neurosis. So called religious influences can be attributed to obsessive neurotic behaviour. Kant was attempting to develop a philosophy independent of religion. For a psychologist like Freud, Kant was subconsciously being influnced by his strong pious unbringing which had been nurtured by his parents’ Lutheran faith


What are the weaknesses of the Moral argument?

Cultural differences in morality
Does not account for a clash of morality
It's too pragmatic for his own uses
Too big of a leap to assume conscience comes from good
If this life is unfair, why would the afterlife be different?
Assumes a reward is needed for morality.
Social reward to morality


What are the strengths of the moral argument?

Explains why we have an innate experience of right and wrong
Is it not possible that God gave us the super-ego or designed the brain that way?
No proof that the conscience doesn't come from god.