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Discussion Group 3: Secular Ethics

  • Thursday, May 19, 2022
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Registration is closed


Many religions claim that ethics must be based on some sort of revelation and that ethics or morality is impossible without religion. But what if we don’t accept that premise? What does a secular ethics look like? What is its proper basis? How does it work on the ground?

Among other things, we will discuss some or all of the following (addressed in moderator Alan Johnson’s forthcoming book Reason and Human Ethics):

  • Individual ethics: ethical habituation (nature and nurture in human brain development); the life of reason; general departures from a rational life (mental laziness, conformism, materialism right and wrong, intemperance, anger, love of power); the Golden Mean (Confucius and Aristotle) applied to courage, moderation, etc.
  • Social ethics: judging others (Jesus vs. Ayn Rand vs. a rational approach); the Golden Rule (Confucius, Jesus: is it a proper standard?); prejudice and discrimination; veracity; friendship; romantic relationships; family; work; force; nonhuman animals; the environment.

REFERENCES (not required reading):

Alan E. Johnson, “What Is the Basis of Human Ethics?” (draft of Chapter 1 of Reason and Human Ethics): https://www.academia.edu/65022633/What_is_the_Basis_of_Human_Ethics_revised_April_3_2022_

Alan E. Johnson, “Human Reason” (draft of Chapter 2 of Reason and Human Ethics): https://www.academia.edu/74417357/Human_Reason_revised_April_3_2022_

Aristotle: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-ethics/. For a deeper dive: Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics”, trans. and ed. Robert C. Bartlett and Susan D. Collins (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011).

PFC's Discussion Groups are moderated forums with pre-selected topics. Anyone who wishes to participate in these discussions is welcome!

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