Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ethics and Humanist Moral Objectivism

Anne said "But Chris, aren't we back to relativism again, with a core morality which "should be determined by everyone for themselves"? What is objective about that?"

Giovanni said " Chris, I agree with Anne, I don't see how you can reconcile "universal moral principles, valid for all people at all times and climes" with the principle that everyone has to use her/his own "moral compass". Am I missing something?"

Giovanni and Anne, if by Moral Objectivism is meant "universal moral principles, valid for all people at all times and climes" - then I can subscribe to this view for some principles for example The Golden Rule Principle.

As a Humanist I recognise that moral values should be founded on human nature and experience alone - not by refering to sacred texts or religious authorities when making moral decisions. I try to lead my life on guiding principles, not dogmatic rules. Despite that, I don't believe that basic moral principles are simply matters of personal preference or that they can vary much from place to place or time to time - I'm don't think I'm at heart a moral relativist.

I try to base my morals on a respect for observation, experience and The Scientific Method
and base my ethics on universal moral principles such as The Golden Rule. Some flexibility about actual situations and humanist scepticism about the value of dogmatic rules does not make me a relativist.

I agree mostly with the British Humanist Association - here,
but I am prepared to change my views mixed and probably will!wink


  1. I suggest you look at Ayn Rand's take on an atheistic, rational, absolutist morality, which she called Objectivism:

  2. On the PhiloGym Oxford University course we were introduced to Moral Objectivism
    in particular the chapter by Louis Pojman in his Introduction to Philosophy book.

    Moral Objectivism has differences from Rand's philosophical system, Objectivism which "encompasses positions on metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics and aesthetics. Rand's Objectivism uses the term in a new way: it treats knowledge and values as neither subjective, nor intrinsic in existence (the traditional meaning of "objective") but rather as the factual identification, by Man's mind, of what exists."