Skip to main content
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 1
  • Cited by
    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Mawson, Tim 2009. Morality and Religion. Philosophy Compass, Vol. 4, Issue. 6, p. 1033.

  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: January 2007

9 - The Autonomy of Ethics

from Part II - The Case against Theism

Our commitment to the objectivity of ethics is a deep one. Ethics is objective just in case there are facts or truths about what is good or bad and right or wrong that obtain independently of the moral beliefs or attitudes of appraisers. A commitment to objectivity is part of a commitment to the normativity of ethics. Moral judgments express normative claims about what we should do and care about. As such, they presuppose standards of behavior and concern that purport to be correct, that could and should guide conduct and concern, and that we might fail to accept or live up to. Normativity, therefore, presupposes fallibility, and fallibility implies objectivity.1 Of course, this presupposition could be mistaken. There might be no objective moral standards. Our moral thinking and discourse might be systematically mistaken.2 But this would be a revisionary conclusion, to be accepted only as the result of extended and compelling argument that the commitments of ethical objectivity are unsustainable. In the meantime, we should treat the objectivity of ethics as a kind of default assumption or working hypothesis.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

The Cambridge Companion to Atheism
  • Online ISBN: 9781139001182
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *