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


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

9 - The Autonomy of Ethics

from Part II - The Case against Theism
Summary

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.

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The Cambridge Companion to Atheism
  • Online ISBN: 9781139001182
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521842700
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