Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong's "Morality Without God?"

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong is Professor of Philosophy and Hardy Professor of Legal Studies at Dartmouth College. He is co-author of God? A Debate between a Christian and an Atheist as well as Understanding Arguments, author of Moral Skepticisms, and editor of Pyrrhonian Skepticism, Moral Psychology, and the OUP series, Philosophy in Action.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Morality Without God?, and reported the following:
Page 99 is not representative of Morality Without God? in many ways. On page 99, I am answering a fairly abstract philosophical objection to my secular harm-based account of morality, but most of the book is less abstract. Second, upon rereading, the tone of page 99 sounds very serious, whereas much of the rest of book is playful and, I hope, fun to read. Third, there are no biblical quotations or empirical studies cited on page 99, although the rest of the book includes lots of these. Nonetheless, page 99 does represent another feature of Morality Without God? I try to give my opponents their due rather than dismissing them in the way that many "new atheists" do. On page 99, I am answering an objection that would spring to mind not just for professional philosophers but also for everyday people, including evangelical Christians. By responding to this objection, page 99 obliquely represents one main theme of the book: We do not need any supernatural authority to back up morality. To see my full argument for this claim, however, you will have to read the rest of the book.
Read more about Morality Without God? at the Oxford University Press website.

Visit Walter Sinnott-Armstrong's webpage.

--Marshal Zeringue