Friday, December 15, 2006

Sloppy Metaethics

Ilya Somin admirably refuses to concede ground to Jeff Jacoby on the relationship between atheism and moral relativism*, but fails to call B.S. on the argument that:
What society loses when it discards Judeo-Christian faith and belief in G-d is something far more difficult to replace: the value system most likely to promote ethical behavior and sustain a decent society. That is because without G-d, the difference between good and evil becomes purely subjective. What makes murder inherently wrong is not that it feels wrong,but that a transcendent Creator to whom we are answerable commands: "Thou shalt not murder...."
If the reason you don't kill somebody is that you're scared of what God will do to you, you're not acknowledging an objective moral truth, you're just being bullied around. The real question is whether God is enforcing a preexisting normative law, or whether He's making arbitrary demands of the people unfortunate enough to be answerable to Him. In neither case does God do any actual metaethical work.

*I think the real disagreement is about moral skepticism, but who's counting?

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