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The Moral Argument for the Existence of God. OCR Spec: K&U: The moral argument from Kant, including his concept of the ‘summum bonum’ and his inferences.

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Presentation on theme: "The Moral Argument for the Existence of God. OCR Spec: K&U: The moral argument from Kant, including his concept of the ‘summum bonum’ and his inferences."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Moral Argument for the Existence of God. OCR Spec: K&U: The moral argument from Kant, including his concept of the ‘summum bonum’ and his inferences about innate moral awareness; psychological challenges from Freud to the moral argument, his view that moral awareness comes from sources other than God. AEA: Be able to discuss critically these views and their strengths and weaknesses.

2 Consider the situation…. Emma visits her grandmother in the old people’s home every Thursday after college. Her friends wonder why she bothers. Granny hasn’t got any money to leave her and the reception Emma gets is very unpredictable. Occasionally Granny is pleased to see her, but more often Emma is greeted by complaints that she doesn’t visit often enough and is too busy enjoying herself to think about her poor old gran. There have even been times when Granny has slept right through Emma’s visit and never noticed her. So why does Emma visit when she gains no pleasure from it?

3 Basic Moral Argument  The human sense of morality leads to the conclusion that the is a divine law-giver (God).

4 Intro to Kant’s Argument  Kant doesn’t try to prove that God exists, he only points to the probability that God exists. He did not think it was possible for human intellect to prove the existence of something totally beyond anything we have experience.  Instead he turned to the ‘moral law within us’ for evidence.  He based his view on our common experience of duty. He claimed that we know in ourselves, what is right, we know where our duty lies and what we ought to do.  The innate sense of moral structure for the universe points to the existence of a God who can ensure justice.

5 Kant’s Moral Theory  There is universal agreement that some actions are right and others wrong.  This shows the existence of an objective moral law that everybody is aware of.  Kant’s moral argument is therefore absolute (things are right or wrong in of themselves) and deontological (referring to an action that is inherently right or wrong with no account is taken of circumstances or outcome).  Not only are we aware of this moral law, Kant said we feel an obligation to obey it because it is the rational thing to do. To discover the right action we must apply moral reason, this will reveal the moral law and gives us the categorical imperative which we should obey.  Key Term: Categorical Imperative - an absolute and universal sense of moral duty which directs humans to the right actions, without any consideration of the outcome.

6 The Summum Bonum  Key Term: Summum Bonum – the state of supreme good when virtue and happiness come together.  A person with right moral intentions, seeks to bring about the Highest Good, the summum bonum, the perfect state of affairs. If we take our ethical nature seriously, we can see that this is what we should aim to achieve.  However, people should not act virtuously in order to receive reward. Kant was convinced that an act is only truly moral if it is done for its own sake and without any selfish motive. People should do the right thing purely because it is the right thing, inspired by ‘the good will’.  The summum bonum is achieved when virtue is rewarded.

7 Three Postulates of Morality 1. Freedom : Kant said a course of action is only moral if a person is free to carry it out. 2. Immortality : Experience tells us that virtuous actions are not always rewarded by happiness. Since virtue ought to result is perfect happiness then it must be achievable. Kant argues that ‘ought implies can’. Because it doesn’t happen in this life, it follows that God must provide it in the next life. 3. God : For Kant it follows logically that if there is another life in which humans can achieve immortality, then there must be a rational moral being, who, as creator and ruler of the world, has the power to bring virtue and happiness together.

8 Summary  It is logical for perfect virtue to be rewarded by perfect happiness.  Humans cannot achieve the summum bonum without God and an afterlife.  God must exist to provide the summum bonum.


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