Does Religion Matter Morally?: The Critical Reappraisal of the Thesis of Morality's Independence from Religion

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A. W. Musschenga
Peeters Publishers, 1995 - Philosophy - 212 pages
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In the dominant view, morality is more rational and universal than, and therefore independent from, (christian) religion. Believers do not have exclusive moral knowledge. Moral principles can be known by anyone. Morality, not religion, is the supreme judge of human actions in the world. Some contributors to this volume defend this view on theological and philosophical grounds. The advantages of such a view for thinking about a common global morality are clear. However, according to many authors, the conception of morality underlying this view is at the least, impoverished, if not wrong: this view cannot explain the importance and the persistence of moral taboos. Furthermore, every morality is influenced by metaphysical and anthropological assumptions - whether or not religious: the so-called modern, rational, secular morality. The central moral question in the alternative narrative concept of morality is 'Who am I / who do I want to be ?' and not 'What is the right action ?' In this approach, not universal principles, but tradition-dependant stories constitute the core of a morality. Are these concepts more adequate for understanding the relation of religion to morality ? Do they have room for the project of a universal morality of human rights ?

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