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June 6, 2006

Morality Without God -- 2

There hovers above (or below) all discussions of nonbelief the nagging question of how, without some God keeping score, people can be encouraged to play the moral game. Alan Ryan raises a version of this question, in his review of, among other works, Kwame Anthony Appiah's book, Cosmopolitanism:

A second large question takes Appiah to the heart of the philosopher's ambition to found morality on something other than familial and local affection. What can get us to take seriously the needs of distant strangers?

Even if you don't, in fact, believe God provides much, or any, of a solution to this problem, the problem remains. Ryan mumbles about utilitarianism or the moral sense that encourages people, after seeing a horror on TV, to contribute to disaster relief. However, "the philosopher's ambition," I fear, is not achieved.

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at June 6, 2006 11:44 PM


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