What is Morality? Error Theory Summarized

In two previous posts (see here and here) I discussed “Error Theory” which is an explanation of our moral senses that, following a naturalistic world view to its logical conclusions, finds that our moral sense is actually a delusion.

Those two posts were long and unwieldy as blog posts. They were pretty good summaries of Richard Joyce’s arguments in favor of (his form of) Error Theory out of his book The Evolution of Morality. But I thought it might be useful to have a shorter summary of his thoughts to reference and because I doubt most people would bother reading my longer summaries.

However, I would ask people to keep in mind the rule of summaries:

The Summary is never equivalent to the Whole and this thus misleading.

And at this point, we are now dealing with the summary of a summary. That being said, here is Error Theory in a short summary:

Error Theory Summarized

Error Theory starts with the realization that there has never been a logically consistent wholly naturalistic explanation for what we experience as morality through our moral sense. Despite some rather smart philosophers coming up with some rather clever arguments, all (so far anyhow) can be demonstrated to be either logically inconsistent or homunculi arguments. (i.e. arguments that sneak the conclusion into the premises and are thus circular.) [1] Continue reading

A Review of Parallels and Convergences: Mormon Thought and Engineering Vision

When M* was asked if we were interested in reviewing any of a list of books from Greg Kofford books, one book in particular jumped out at me called Parallels and Convergences: Mormon Thought and Engineering Vision. I knew that was the one I wanted to review.

The book was much of what I was hoping for. Let me just say that unlike my esteemed colleague at M*, Ivan Wolfe, who also reviewed the book, I am a huge fan of speculative theology, especially speculative ways to work out the points of conflict between our current best scientific theories and our current best theological theories. Or, at least I’m a big fan if it’s not being presented as doctrinal fact, which this book never does. Continue reading

Error Theory Part 2 – Can Evolution Vindicate Morality?

In my previous post I described Error Theory and used Richard Joyce’s arguments to explain that our morality sense includes supernatural seeming notions such as the existence of a ‘moral equilibrium’ or ‘moral facts’ in the world that exist as inescapable demands by an outside authority.

This does not sit well with many a moral atheist, so several attempts to ‘explain morality’ via a naturalistic explanation have been attempted. The primary approach is to use biological evolution as a means of vindicating morality as naturalistic. Specifically, why can’t we use the fact that evolution produced morality as some sort of naturalistic vindication of our feelings of moralities objective rality and profound importance? This is the idea that Joyce now makes short work of. Continue reading

What is Morality?: Error Theory (Part 1)

Note: This is a long post. As with any post like this, I will initially just present the point of view without any criticism to it. But I think it’s a topic that is of potential interest in a backhanded sort of way.

In my previous posts on “what is morality?” I went over the many difficulties of trying to define morality. We found that we do not view morality as:

My final conclusion was that morality was something that had to be accepted on faith. Continue reading

On Being a Believing, Traditional Mormon in an Amoral, “Nuanced” World

By any standard, I am still in the bloom and pluck of life, being only 35 years of age currently.  My physical health is outstanding, my hair is not going prematurely gray, and by contemporary American standards I am fit and within my recommended weight limit.  Financially I am fine (although “secure” is probably not the appropriate word).  I have a brilliant, loving wife and special children.  Truly, there is much to be thankful for.

And yet…I have sobering moments of reflection in which I survey the climate and landscape and resist shudders of despair.  By nature I am not overly pessimistic; I truly believe that over time, the good guys eventually win.  I look forward, with an eye of faith, to the time when righteousness will cover the earth as the waves cover the sea. Continue reading