Tag Archives: Theism

Some Closing Thoughts on Moral Complexity – Part 5 of 5

     Recall that my intention from the beginning was to construct a basic outline of the Dalai Lama, Andre Comte-Sponville, and Viktor Frankl’s moral systems based on excerpts of their respective works. Following the outline, I sought to point out some general objections to each moral system and analyze each one based on how well it can handle moral complexity.

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Moral Complexity and Viktor Frankl’s ‘Logotherapy’ – Part 4 of 5

This is the fourth part of a five-part essay comparing and contrasting the moral systems of the Dalai Lama, Andre Comte-Sponville, and Viktor Frankl with regard to how well (or poorly) their respective moral systems fare against morally complex situations.


Viktor Frankl’s Moral System (based on Logotherapy)

            As far as the deontological/consequentialist debate goes, Frankl’s moral system seems to straddle the middle. Frankl’s moral system is derived from aspects of his logotherapy, a specific school of thought within modern psychiatry. Frankl believes that logotherapy is a useful tool in that “the patient is actually confronted with and reoriented toward the meaning of his[/her/their] life” (104). This meaning is the primary drive motivating conscious human beings; it is future-oriented (towards some potentiality that is, as of yet, left undone), extremely subjective (as it changes from one individual to the next), and dependent upon the responsible care and efforts of the individual for its realization.

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Moral Complexity and Andre Comte-Sponville’s ‘Spiritual Atheism’ – Part 3 of 5

This is the third part of a five-part essay comparing and contrasting the moral systems of the Dalai Lama, Andre Comte-Sponville, and Viktor Frankl with regard to how well (or poorly) their respective moral systems fare against morally complex situations.


Andre Comte-Sponville’s Moral System (based on Spiritual Atheism)

     Comte-Sponville’s moral system, in contrast to the Dalai Lama’s is more consequentialist than deontological. His moral system is more concerned with states of affairs and consequences that affect them than purely motivation/intention. Take, for instance, the fact that he decries certain moral actions such as “rob[bery], rape, and murder” (42). He does this, presumably, because of the immensely harmful consequences that each one brings about. Robbery can shatter a person’s sense of security within their own home or environment. Rape forcefully objectifies a person’s existence, conflating the meaning of their life with the desirability of their physical traits. Murder almost inherently involves pain and suffering, not to mention its permanent duration. As a result, Comte-Sponville’s moral system is more consequentialist than deontological.

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Moral Complexity and the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan Buddhism – Part 2 of 5

This is the second part of a five-part essay comparing and contrasting the moral systems of the Dalai Lama, Andre Comte-Sponville, and Viktor Frankl with regard to how well (or poorly) their respective moral systems fare against morally complex situations.


The Dalai Lama’s Moral System (based on Tibetan Buddhism)

We can categorize the Dalai Lama’s moral system as one that is deontological in nature. Deontological ethics, recall, has two key interpretations. One interpretation defines deontological ethics as a method that helps us to understand what is morally required, forbidden, and permissible in a particular situation or event. Morally required actions, insofar as they are completed, are morally good; these are often referred to as obligations or duties. Morally forbidden actions, however, ought to be avoided and are morally bad. Morally permissible actions, then, are neither morally good nor morally bad; they are either morally void or morally neutral actions.

A second interpretation defines deontological ethics as a method that focuses on whether or not specific and explicit moral rules or principles were followed in completing a particular action or set of actions. Deontological ethics then uses these specific and explicit moral rules and principles to determine the moral worth of an action or set of actions (henceforth referred to as ‘set’). If the specific moral rule or principle is observed during the action or ‘set,’ then the action or ‘set’ can be said to be morally good. If the specific moral rule or principle is not observed during the action or ‘set,’ however, then the action or ‘set’ is morally bad.

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Making the Acquaintance of Moral Complexity – Part 1 of 5

This is the first part of a five-part essay comparing and contrasting the moral systems of the Dalai Lama, Andre Comte-Sponville, and Viktor Frankl with regard to how well (or poorly) their respective moral systems fare against morally complex situations.


     Moral complexity is both a fact of reality and an obstacle that persistently bedevils the formation and function of our moral systems. By moral systems, I mean the totality of methods, assumptions, principles, rules, and obligations that are meant to guide, regulate, and formalize our interactions with other living beings as well as with our environments. Moral systems come in a variety of different forms and can be either secular (natural, material) or sacred (religious, supernatural) in composition. They also have varying degrees or levels of comprehensiveness in content and scope. That is to say, some are more developed or nuanced than others. Examples of some moral systems include Divine Command Theory, the Golden Rule, Utilitarianism, Virtue Ethics, the 10 Nonvirtues of Tibetan Buddhism, and so on.

     Given that at least one purpose of moral systems is to guide, regulate, and formalize our interactions with other living beings as well as with our environments, we can assess the worth and utility of a moral system insofar as it is relatively more adept at handling complex moral situations than its competitors.

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One Perspective on Christianity and Disability

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Introduction
     In what follows, I will lay out some of the more problematic aspects of Christianity’s relationship with its members who are disabled. This will involve an exploration of Christian theology and a comparison with another, similarly harmful, approach to/worldview of disability known as the medical model.

NOTE: I realize that what is about to be said does not apply universally to all of Christianity or its denominations or its beliefs. But there are still people and denominations who hold to some of these beliefs or views, either directly or indirectly, and who propagate this mistreatment of people with disabilities, either purposefully or inadvertently. It it to these particular Christian individuals and groups that this article is predominantly addressed.

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The Incompatible Properties Argument(s) by T.M. Drange

[This article was originally published by Dr. Theodore Drange in Philo 1998 (2), pp. 49-60. It has been re-purposed here, eliminating most of Drange’s accompanying comments to anticipated objections. The intention here is just to provide the outlines of his argument(s) in their logical form(s) and promote awareness of the argument’s overall strength.]

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Atheological arguments (arguments for the nonexistence of God) can be divided into two main groups. One group consists of arguments which aim to show an incompatibility between two of God’s properties. Let us call those “incompatible-properties arguments.” The other group consists of arguments which aim to show an incompatibility between God’s existence and the nature of the world. They may be called “God-vs.-world arguments.” A prime example of one of those would be the Evidential Argument from Evil. This paper will only survey arguments in the first group. Arguments in the second group are discussed elsewhere.[1]

To generate incompatible-properties arguments, it would be most helpful to have a list of divine attributes. I suggest the following. God is:

(a) perfect                       (g) personal

(b) immutable                (h) free

(c) transcendent            (i) all-loving

(d) nonphysical              (j) all-just

(e) omniscient                (k) all-merciful

(f) omnipresent              (l) the creator of the universe

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May the 4th Be with You

In honor of today’s holiday and the greatest movie saga of all time, I’m uploading a copy of a paper that I wrote for one of my graduate courses, Women in World Religions, with Dr. Lori Swick. 

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You can download the essay in its entirety here

2 Superb Introductions to Metaphysics!

The video above (albeit with corny transition effects — I’m thinking Prezy?) covers some of the fundamental ideas in Metaphysics. ~9 mins.

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A Critique of ‘The Argument from Desire’

Introduction
The Argument from Desire is an often overlooked argument that is both logically and emotionally appealing to theists. As Christian apologist Norman Geisler puts it, “it has a certain existential force.” 1 The Argument from Desire interprets seemingly universal desires and experiences of human beings, including those who may passionately declare themselves to be atheists, agnostics, or something else entirely, as evidence that points to the existence of Heaven specifically, but which is entailed by the existence of the Christian God more generally.

Though originally championed by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, Pilgrim’s Regress, and The Problem of Pain 2, there have been numerous forms of the argument advanced in contemporary times. Some scholars, such as Norman Geisler and Art Lindsley 3, argue that the desire is one for immortality. Others state that it is a desire for everlasting joy, as Lewis himself did. Still others, such as Peter Kreeft, argue that this universal yearning is a desire for an intimate and lasting relationship with God, which likely entails the other two desires. This paper will focus mostly on the version of the Argument from Desire put forth by Christian apologist Peter Kreeft. 4 In the remainder of this paper, I will explore Kreeft’s argument in detail, providing criticisms and clarifications where appropriate applicable. 

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