“Modern” Morality and My Monograph

by Robert Paul Vicars IV

moralityThe school that I’m currently attending requires a 10,000+ word monograph for graduation. For all intents and purposes, it is a short thesis. This partly explains why there has been a severe drought of original thought on this blog for quite some time now as my graded work often takes priority. However, my monograph will cover moral issues in a couple of the contemporary debates on war, something that is relevant here. As part of that discussion I will cover a brief history of moral thought. Below is the draft for the small section covering the post-Enlightenment view of morality in the context of naturalism. You’ll note my criticism of the naturalistic perspective, which would be expected on this blog. However, in the monograph I offer criticisms also of the theistic view, as well as the self-criticism of the postmodern view.  The section ends a bit awkwardly here, but in the monograph it serves as a transition to the postmodern view of morality. Also, I have introduced Michael Ruse earlier in the paper as a philosopher of evolutionary ethics, so if it seems that he just shows up at random, it’s because, here, he does. Enjoy (if it’s possible).

After the Enlightenment, during what has been termed the “modern era,” scientific and philosophic naturalism has dominated.[1] Naturalism is the belief that all things have natural causes or come from natural properties. This belief a priori excludes supernatural causation as well as a metaphysical realm of reality.

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The symbolic climax of naturalistic science is Charles Darwin’s The Origin of the Species. The implications of his premise, that the human species evolved from other animal species, have reduced morality to mere social interaction dependent only on the natural selection of those moral beliefs that favor survival. In other words, on the Darwinian view of man the relation of moral precepts to good and evil is illusory…

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