Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe

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Overview

Suppose there is no God. This supposition implies that human life is meaningless, that there are no moral obligations and hence people can do whatever they want, and that the notions of virtue and vice, right and wrong, and good and evil have no place in the universe. Erik J. Wielenberg believes this view to be utterly erroneous and, in this thought-provoking book, he explains the reasons why. He argues that, even if God does not exist, human life can still have meaning, humans do have moral obligations, and human virtue is still possible. Wielenberg offers readers a cognent explanation of the ethical implications of naturalism—a view that denies the existence of the supernatural in human life. In his view virtue exists in a godless universe but it is significantly different from virtue in a Christian universe, and he develops naturalistic accounts of humility, charity, and hope. The overarching theme of Virtue and Value in a Godless Universe is what ethics might look like without God. Erik Wielenberg takes readers on an extraordinary tour of some of the central landmarks of this under-explored territory.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Wielenberg presents an analytical pholosopher's argument, beautifully restrained and precise." Bookforum
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521607841
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/7/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 204
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Erik J. Wielenberg is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at DePaw University. He has written articles in such journals as Religious Studies, Faith and Philosophy, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, Synthese, and Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy. He has given lectures at a variety of professional conferences, including meetings of the American Philosophical Association and the Society of Christian Philosophers.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction; Part I. God and the Meaning of Life: 1. The meanings of life; 2. Four arguments that life lacks internal meaning without God; 3. Richard Taylor's way out: creating your own meaning; 4. Peter Singer's way out: meaning through eliminating pain; 5. Aristotle's way out: intrinsically good activity; Part II. God and Morality: 6. God as the omnipotent creator of ethics; 7. Criticism of the strong position; 8. Criticism of the weak position; 9. An alternative account; 10. God as divine commander; Part III. The Divine Guarantee of Perfect Justice: 11. Why be moral?; 12. First answer: because morality and self-interest coincide; 13. Second answer: because you ought to; 14. The divine guarantee of perfect justice and Kant's moral argument; 15. Divine justice, self-sacrifice, and moral absurdity; 16. Absolute evil and moral faith; 17. Where we are now; Part IV. Ethical Character in a Godless Universe: 18. A new assumption; 19. The fall of man: pride and disobedience; 20. Humility, Christian and naturalistic; 21. From humility to charity; 22. Hope and heroism; 23. Moral education and science; Part V. Creeds to Live By: 24. To believe or not to believe?; 25. A creed we can live by?; Notes; References.

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