Are moral values and moral duties rationally grounded in atheism?

Brian Auten posted the audio a few milliseconds after the debate concluded!

Here is the MP3 file.

Sean’s case is similar to the one I make, but he only has 3 minimal requirements for morality.

First, he explains the difference between objective and subjective truth claims, and points out that statements of a moral nature are meaningless unless morality is objective. Then he states 3 things that are needed in order to ground objective morality.

  1. an objective moral standard
  2. free will
  3. objective moral value of humans

The question of the foundations of morality is without a doubt the easiest issue for beginning apologists to discuss with their neighbor. If you’re new, then you need to at least listen to his opening speech. He’s an excellent speaker, and his rebuttals are very, very smooth. The citations of atheist philosophers like Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, e.g. – to show that “religious” wars had nothing to do with religion, really hurt his opponent. He seems to cite prominent atheists like Thomas Nagel, Richard Taylor, Michael Shermer, etc., constantly in order to get support for his assertions. That took preparation. I can’t believe that McDowell is this calm in a debate situation.

When I listen to Frank Turek, he seems to struggle in his rebuttals. McDowell sounds like he foreknew exactly what his opponent would say and pre-wrote responses. He even had powerpoint slides made in advance for his rebuttals! I am not making this up – Corbett even remarked on it.

For those of you who want to understand how these things work, listen to the debate. There is a period of cross-examination if you like that sort of thing. I do!

3 thoughts on “Are moral values and moral duties rationally grounded in atheism?”

  1. Nothing is rationally grounded under atheism as they have no rational basis for believing in rationality. Atheists skate on a theistic pond.


  2. McDowell’s problem starts at the beginning when he uses two different definitions of objective and subjective and then conflates them to mean the same thing.
    First he defines objective as something that can be said to be wrong irrespective of someone’s beliefs.
    Then he defines objective as something outside of what can be said to be wrong.
    Similarly, for subjective he defines it as what is believed by the individual judging the actions.
    But an objective moral standard is not in contrast to this, it is in contrast to standards based upon the subjective bad and/or good of those affected by the action/inaction.

    This subjective bad and/or good is objective in the first definition, in that good and bad for a person is good and bad irrespective of others or even their own beliefs.
    But, it is not objective in that it needs to rely on some standard outside of those affected by the action as the objective standard is the effect upon those within the sphere of influence of that action.


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