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Atheism, Morality, and Meaning (Prometheus Lecture Series) Kindle Edition
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Martin does not just defend atheism against moral apologetics; he goes on the offensive, presenting an affirmative case for an atheistic moral realism. He also makes many interesting points about the idea that Christianity (and not just God in general) is the foundation of ethics, and offers a detailed discussion of the implications of Christianity and naturalism for the meaning of life.
The breadth of the territory covered by Martin is impressive; I know of no other book on the market that covers such a variety of metaethical issues from an atheistic perspective. Anyone interested in the relationship between naturalism, theism, and morality will find Martin's book useful. Moreover, unlike many books on metaethics, Martin's book is not highly technical, which helps to make it accessible to the lay reader.
However, the book does have its limitations. Many nonphilosophers will find Martin's presentation and defense of Ideal Observer Theory counterintuitive and unconvincing. Martin says nothing about the atheistic justification for adopting the moral point of view. And Martin says little or nothing about some of the influential moral arguments advanced by theists. For example, he says nothing about Robert Adams's work on the social nature of obligation and very little about George Mavrodes's argument about the "queerness of morality." In this sense, Martin's discussion is incomplete.
Nevertheless, despite these shortcomings, this book would make a useful addition to the library of anyone interested in the relationship between atheism and morality.
One may, perhaps, fault Martin for not devoting much space to alternative atheistic ethical theories other than the one he develops in the book, but details on those theories are readily available elsewhere, and Martin's book suffers from few other shortcomings. (Although, unfortunately, he does devote some space to refuting the absurd presuppositionalist claims of Bahnsen, a view that is not taken seriously in contemporary ethical theory anyway. But I guess someone has to refute it.)
This book should be on the shelf of anyone interested in the relationship between theism, morality, and meaning in life.
Readable, informative, accurate, and powerful. Buy it.
I found the Ideal Observer Theory completely unpersuasive. What is the difference between acting morally because the Ideal Observer would disapprove versus acting morally because God would disapprove? It's a distinction without a difference. Why look for morality in abstract concepts when it is so clearly visible in reality and human history? Thou shalt not murder? Duh! Humanity wouldn't exist if we hadn't figured that one out long ago.
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