Friday, July 19, 2013

Debate Round 3: Questions

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Below are my questions for my opponent in the “Questions” round of a debate between me and fellow blogger Potnia Theron (a.k.a. Steven) over the existence of God. The debate thus far:

Question #1: First Premise of the Moral Argument

To recap, the deductive moral argument I used is this:
  1. If God does not exist, then objective morality does not exist.
  2. Objective morality does exist.
  3. Therefore, God exists.
Where in this context I defined “objective” to mean something like holding independently of human belief and perception. My argument for premise (1) was (in a nutshell) that objective morality probably doesn’t exist if atheism is true. Coming against the truth of the premise from a very different angle, you claimed the first premise of the deductive moral argument somehow implies that God is responsible for moral values and duties, but no explanation is given for why the first premise implies that objective morality is dependent on God. It seems to me that an atheist can agree with the first premise (believing that objective morality probably doesn’t exist if atheism is true) while also believing that even if objective morality did exist (and the atheist thinks it does not), its foundation wouldn’t be God. By my lights, this becomes especially apparent once one realizes that the first premise is most charitably interpreted as a material conditional, in which case all that’s needed for the atheist to accept the first premise is to believe objective morality doesn’t exist while maintaining his atheism. So my first question is this: (1) why think the first premise says (or commits one to believing) that objective morality depends on God, especially once the first premise is interpreted as a material conditional?

Questions #2 and #3: Moral Ontology

To recap what I said earlier, I noted that either morality exists solely as part of the physical realm, or it exists to at least some degree as part of the nonphysical realm. One of these must be true, because if morality exists neither as part of the physical realm nor as part of the nonphysical realm, then it follows that morality does not exist as part of reality at all. So if morality exists, some moral ontology or other must be true. After I argued that some ontological explanation or other must be true and that moral properties (like moral wrongness) exist as part of the nonphysical realm to at least some degree, I argued that the simplest moral ontology leads us to an eternal, transcendent, metaphysically necessary entity that imposes moral duties upon us with supreme and universally binding authority. You apparently don’t believe God grounds morality, but you have offered no alternative moral ontology. So my next two questions are these: (2) What is your alternative moral ontology; (3) Given the law of parsimony, on what grounds do you believe your alternative moral ontology is better than the one my argument from ontological simplicity offers?