Moral Accountability and an implicit argument against Naturalism

Suppose that the Atheist responds to any and every moral argument for the existence of God that God is not required in order to purchase the objectivity of moral values or duties. Perhaps the Naturalist would argue that (i) Naturalism is clearly true, and (ii) there are clearly objective moral values and duties, (iii) that belief in at least the second of these is properly basic, and (iv) that the Naturalist is more sure that the conjunction of (i)&(ii) is true than she is that any argument for their incompatibility is sound. To affirm (ii) is just to affirm that ‘one should believe in objective moral values and duties’ regardless of whatever else one does or does not believe in. Perhaps the same Naturalist would argue that even in logically possible worlds where there are not objective moral values and duties, one ought (non-objectively) to believe in the objectivity of moral values and duties. In fact, even if it were the case that there were no objective moral values and duties, one can argue that they ought to believe in them in so many more possible worlds than worlds in which they (hypothetically) ‘ought’ not that there is just no world, or practically no world, in which one should not, on balance, be a moral realist.

All this is well and good for the Atheist. However, presumably the Naturalist cannot believe in objective moral accountability without a considerable stretch which strains any modicum of credulity they have left. Now, even by a subjective standard, according to which one ought to believe in the objectivity of moral values and duties even if ultimately illusory, it seems that one ought to prefer to believe x over y, for any non-identical x and y, if belief in x puts one in a nearer occasion of acting/believing in a morally idyllic way. By this standard, however, one ought to believe in the objectivity of moral accountability. However, if God does not exist then (plausibly) there is no objective moral accountability. It will follow, at least insofar as one ‘ought’ to be consistent, that, all things being equal, one ought to believe that theism is true.

Thus:

  1. Either objective moral values and duties exist, or objective moral values and duties do not exist.
  2. If objective moral values and duties do not exist, then one (subjectively) ought to believe in objective moral values and duties.
  3. If objective moral values and duties do exist, then one (objectively and subjectively) ought to believe in objective moral values and duties.
  4. Therefore, one (subjectively) ought to believe in objective moral values and duties.

And:

  1. For any non-identical views x and y, if believing in x puts one in a nearer occasion of acting as one ought than y, then one ought to believe in x.
  2. Belief in objective moral accountability does put one in the nearer occasion of acting as one ought than belief in non-objective moral accountability.
  3. Therefore one ought to believe in objective moral accountability.
  4. Belief in philosophical consistency does put one in the nearer occasion of acting as one ought than belief in philosophical inconsistency.
  5. Believing in objective moral accountability together with Naturalism is inconsistent.
  6. Therefore, one ought to believe in objective moral accountability and Naturalism if and only if one ought not to believe in objective moral accountability and philosophical consistency.
  7. Therefore, one ought not believe in Naturalism

And so on, and so forth…

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About tylerjourneaux

I am an aspiring Catholic theologian and philosopher, and I have a keen interest in apologetics. I am creating this blog both in order to practice and improve my writing and memory retention as I publish my thoughts, and in order to give evidence of my ability to understand and communicate thoughts on topics pertinent to Theology, Philosophy, philosophical theology, Catholic (Christian) Apologetics, philosophy of religion and textual criticism.
This entry was posted in Apologetics, Ethics, Naturalism, Philosophy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Moral Accountability and an implicit argument against Naturalism

  1. William says:

    Wouldn’t survival be an objective basis for morality that’s consistent with naturalism?

    • In the post I granted that for the sake of argument. I even granted that it may not only be an objective value, but the basis for an objective imperative (a concession which I am not, as a matter of fact, inclined to give). However, in the post I was speaking about objective moral accountability. On Naturalism somebody may do wrong their whole lives and live happily right to the end. Naturalism as a worldview does nothing to insure people against this kind of injustice by ensuring that there be ultimate accountability. It’s a relatively modest and uncontroversial point, I take it.

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