Rachael's Reviews > Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe

Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. Wielenberg
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's review
Dec 06, 2011

it was amazing

This is both an account of how value is possible given atheism as well as a more subtle defense of moral realism. wielenberg does an admirable job of dissembling divine command theory and questioning how the presence of God is even supposed to answer any moral question. I'd recommend this book for anyone interested in metaethics generally, and more specifically who question the ability for atheists to have not only an objective moral standard, but to claim a robust moral realism complete with necessarily true moral propositions. I'd especially recommend this as a serious alternative to Sam Harris' confused work.
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Robert Fischer The book didn't set out to show that ethical systems based on God were incoherent—that's a triviality. The book set out to show that value and virtue can exist without God. It failed in that attempt, because it presumes the existence of value and virtue within the argument (see anywhere the author says "Obviously", especially about the excrement-eater). There's no "objective moral standard" which is effectively laid out — a single broadside of Nietzsche dismantles most of the arguments.

In short, this is all rehashed secular Christianity, which was born in the 19th century and died (at least among philosophers and serious thinkers) in the 20th.

message 2: by Rachael (last edited Jan 18, 2012 01:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rachael The book admirably demonstrates that objective values not only survive without God, but never really had anything to do with God in the first place. If you want to argue that Nietzsche could decimate his arguments you need to actually demonstrate how that is so. wielenberg explicitly deals with subjectivist accounts, and internalist accounts of reason. That's the power of the moral realist position- a position that deals with how we actually talk about values, morality, ethics, and our powerful intuitions about what counts and what doesn't. If you think this position is dead, and has been dead for a century, I'm afraid the only thing I can assume is that you don't keep up with analytic philosophy.

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