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Theists, stop being ignorant about meta-ethics!

I recently watched the Notre Dame debate between Sam Harris and William Lane Craig entitled ‘Is Good from God?’ I can refute everything Craig said in just three words:

Ideal Observer Theory

Look, theists, if you want to argue that Divine Command Theory farts rainbows and brings orgasms to needy little children, knock yourselves out. But honestly, stop acting as if it were the only coherent meta-ethical theory ever devised in the history of humanity. It doesn’t make you look clever, it makes you look either ignorant or dishonest. Craig must certainly be immorally dishonest, since as a Research Professor of Philosophy he ought to know better.

No, I don’t intend to defend Ideal Observer Theory over Divine Command Theory – though I’ll recommend Michael Martin’s book ‘Atheism, Morality, and Meaning‘ for the interested – and Ideal Observer Theory isn’t even the only theory that fulfils Craig’s criteria of ‘objectivity.’ I don’t even know why we should take seriously Craig’s assertion that ‘If God doesn’t exist there can be no objective morality’ since it basically just boils down to an argument from Craig’s personal incredulity.

However, my point is that philosophical integrity demands that we ought at the very least acknowledge that there are other positions available. We don’t have to accept them. Hell, we can argue vehemently against their veracity. But the least we can do is to not pretend that there is no opposing view; no legitimate disagreement. That’s not philosophy, that’s just plain old propaganda.

For shame!


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4 Responses to “Theists, stop being ignorant about meta-ethics!”

  1. You’re wrong. When you make an assertion tantamount to Godless meta-ethics are impossible, the plethora of existing Godless meta-ethics is very much relevant. Sure, some times one is subject to certain demands for brevity, but the honest way to deal with it is to acknowledge one’s omissions; not to sweep them under the rug.

    Harris wasn’t guilty of doing this in the debate, Craig was.

    I would say you’re in dire need of a higher level of reading comprehension and clarity of thought. But I won’t! 🙂

  2. Rúni says:

    Harris barely addressed Craig’s response. Instead he went on about the horrors of religion ect. A bit dissapointing really. When in ontology of morals, stay in ontology of morals.

    • The only constraining framework of the debate was the topic “Is Good From God?” As far as I’m concerned Harris never strayed from that topic. I agree that he didn’t address Craig’s notions but can you name any reason whatsoever why we should grant Craig legitimacy in dictating the terms of the debate over and above that of Harris and the organisers? Am I missing something here? Weren’t Craig and Harris just participants on equal footing? Why the double standard?

  3. Arni, William Lane Craig now defends genocide and infanticide. Do you still think I’m prejudiced and one-sided in thinking of the man as less than a moral paragon?

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