Chapter 1 of Alan E. Johnson’s forthcoming book Reason and Human Ethics is titled “What Is the Basis of Human Ethics?” Various philosophers and other thinkers have proposed one or more of the following as a basis of human ethics. What do you think?
· Ethical relativism (individual, cultural, historical, postmodern): Protagoras and many scholars and other writers during and after the nineteenth century
· Classical reason (reasoning about both ends and means): Plato, Aristotle
· Religion: Thomas Aquinas and other theologians throughout the ages
· Modern emotion/sentiment (reason is only about means not ends; ends are established by our feelings): Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, Jonathan Haidt, et al.
· Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative
· Utilitarianism/consequentialism: Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and many others
· Virtue ethics: G. E. M. Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Rosalind Hursthouse, et al.
· Evolutionary biology (survival of the fittest vs. empathy, cooperation, and reason): many scholars
· Human nature (secular teleological view): Alan E. Johnson and others
References: There are too many to list. Moreover, most of them are either books or scholarly papers. The popular accounts found on the internet are not very useful.
Alan will moderate this discussion.
Discussion Groups are moderated forums with pre-selected topics. Anyone who wishes to participate in the civil discussions is welcomed but not required to do so. The groups nominally represent different geographical locations and will morph back into geographically located in-person discussions when we can do so, for now we meet using google meet. They are currently held every Thursday. The topic for each discussion is announced in advance, sometimes with recommended reading.