The Moral Argument

Mind Map by Sumahlor, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by Sumahlor over 6 years ago


A-Level Philosophy Mind Map on The Moral Argument, created by Sumahlor on 05/04/2015.

Resource summary

The Moral Argument
  1. There are many moral arguments. The main one is from Immanuel Kant's book 'Critique of Practical Reason.'
    1. Humans are rational, moral decision-makers
      1. Morality is a matter of doing your moral duty
        1. Reason is the basis of morality
          1. God does not create morality - for Kant, morality requires the existence of a God.
          2. Kant rejects arguments that try to prove God's existence. He said God's existence is beyond human knowledge. But to explain why we are moral, we must say that God exists.
          3. Kantian Ethics
            1. Autonomy - an action is only a matter of morality if you freely choose it.
              1. God is not a punishing lawgiver or we wouldn't be making free choices
              2. Duty - the only intrinsically good reason for moral action is good will
                1. We do actions because they're good, not because of a reward
                  1. This achieves the 'summum bonum' - the highest good
                    1. Kant called this the categorical imperative - a duty you must do
                    2. Consequences do NOT matter
                    3. Duty is objective; if it weren't, you'd have to take other things into account than an action's goodness
                      1. You know an action is good if it can be universalised (what is moral when it applies to one person applies to everyone else too)
                        1. We must act according to moral law using reason.
                    4. Kan'ts moral argument
                      1. It would be illogical for the summum bonum not to be achievable, because we ought to try to achieve it (ought implies can)
                        1. To do one's duty is to achieve the SB. This fulfills you, because it's right.
                          1. But because there's corruption and wickedness in the world, some people are happy without doing their duty
                            1. Why would we do our duty if it didn't lead to virtue and happiness? If you can't guarantee the SB, there's no meaning in duty.
                              1. VERY IMPORTANT! Kant did not believe happiness and virtue should be our motivation to act morally. Only duty is a valid motivation.
                                1. Happiness results from doing the right thing because (in Kant's opinion) the world is fair, but it's not a motive.
                                2. God's existence guarantees moral virtue and means the SB is achievable.
                                  1. So for Kant's morality to work, we must postulate the existence of God.
                        2. Criticisms of Kant's argument
                          1. That we OUGHT to aim for the SB doesn't mean we actually is possible to achieve it, or that God exists to ensure it is possible
                            1. You might say a good action is good whether it's achievable or not
                            2. Even if we accept a being existing to reward/punish, this doesn't mean it's God. A powerful angel could do the job just as well.
                              1. The power and knowledge required to make the SB possible doesn't necessarily amount to God's omnipotence and omniscience.
                                1. Postulating God's existence doesn't help you act morally
                                  1. The assassin story: if an assassin asks if a fugitive is hiding with you, Kant says it's good to tell the truth, even though it results in a death. So for a teleologist, this argument falls apart.
                                    1. Self-contradictory? Offers a reward and says God wills the moral law, yet says we should not act because of rewards and that God is not a lawgiver.
                                    2. Freud's explanation for morality
                                      1. Freud believed religion is a neurosis - a problem experience repressed by the mind instead of being solved - stems from a desire to have protection and purpose
                                        1. if this is true, Kant's argument is illogical
                                        2. Moral values come from the Oedipus complex
                                          1. Childhood sexual desire for the parent of the opposite sex
                                            1. This comes from Freud's model of the mind
                                              1. Id - selfish, animalistic desire
                                                1. Ego - reason and thought
                                                  1. Superego - conscience
                                                    1. The id desires the parent and wants to kill the other parent, but the ego tells the child not to act on desires because it will bring them into conflict with the other parents (who is bigger and stronger)
                                                      1. The child knows its desires are wrong so this creates a feeling of guilt - the development of a conscience (the superego)
                                                        1. Eventually it learns to identify with the parent of its own sex and so this stage ends, and the child has developed a morality
                                                          1. If this is where morality comes from, then Kant's argument is wrong
                                              2. Criticisms of Freud's argument
                                                1. Not very scientific
                                                  1. Based only on observations of Austrian women and Kant's own personal experiences (he wasn't raised by his parents and once experienced a sexual attraction to his mother)
                                                    1. Modern science does not support the id/ego/supergo model
                                                  2. Other moral arguments
                                                    1. Newman - when we do something wrong we feel guilty even if nobody knows. Therefore there must be someone before whom we feel guilty - God
                                                      1. Plato's forms (see Plato mindmap)


                                                        1. CS Lewis: There must be a moral law or there'd be no reason to keep promises etc
                                                          1. It can't be herd instinct because sometimes we go against the majority
                                                            1. It's not a law of nature because sometimes what's beneficial to survival isn't always right
                                                              1. It isn't imagination because everyone seems to have an idea of it
                                                                1. It must come from a mind because morality does not come from matter
                                                                  1. And since it doesn't come from humans it must come from God
                                                                    1. But this argument falls apart if you don't accept that there are moral absolutes
                                                        Show full summary Hide full summary


                                                        Breakdown of Philosophy
                                                        Reason and Experience Plans
                                                        Who did what now?...Ancient Greek edition
                                                        Chris Clark
                                                        The Cosmological Argument
                                                        Summer Pearce
                                                        AS Philosophy Exam Questions
                                                        Summer Pearce
                                                        Philosophy of Art
                                                        religious studies- the end of life vocab
                                                        Religion and Science Quiz
                                                        Leah Firmstone
                                                        Religious Experience
                                                        "The knower's perspective is essential in the pursuit of knowledge." To what extent do you agree?