Monday, December 20, 2010

A moral argument for theism

  1. (Premise) Humans have intrinsic goods that do not reduce to pleasure.
  2. (Premise) If there are intrinsic proper functions in humans, probably God exists.
  3. (Premise) If there are no intrinsic proper functions in humans, either humans have no intrinsic goods or all intrinsic human goods reduce to pleasure.
  4. Therefore, probably God exists.
The first premise is the least controversial, but it, too, is controversial. Premise 2 requires a subsidiary argument. If God doesn't exist, then our only hope for an explanation of intrinsic proper functions in humans is evolutionary accounts of proper function. But evolutionary accounts of proper function all fail (see, for instance, this argument). Premise 3 is, I think, fairly plausible—except perhaps for pleasure and goods reducible to pleasure, any intrinsic human goods we can imagine (e.g., friendship, wisdom, etc.) are only good on the assumption that there is such a thing as the intrinsic proper function in a human. A lot more needs to be said about each premise, of course.

Notice that unlike other moral arguments for theism, this one does not necessarily lead to a divine command ethics. The analogue to divine command ethics would be a "designer's purpose" view of proper function. But I think that doesn't give intrinsic proper function.

1 comment:

Martin Cooke said...

If we evolved, it seems likely that we did so as social animals. So our being team players might express one of our intrinsic proper functions. Were some continuants just like us suddenly created randomly, they too would be team players. Now, we might consider them to be people because they had so much in common with us. But if they were a bit more different, were not team players, we might consider them to be less human. Of course, they would never have been homo sapiens because they would not have evolved. But their being team players might be part of what we might call their humanity, or their being humane. So I don't see the atheistic problem with taking being team players to be part of what it means to be human.