Jacques Maritain Center: Ethics Without God?

Quodlibet: Moral Proofs Revisited

Friday, July 18
Afternoon session
James Krueger, University of Notre Dame, IN

In "The Reasons We Share" Kristine Korsgaard suggests that in the case of Jim and the Indians, Jim is morally justified in shooting one Indian to save the rest even if the Indians implore him not to do so. This conclusion is a surprising one for a professed Kantian. Interestingly, if one pays close attention to Kant's comments on the ends of moral action, and in particular his discussion of the moral atheist, it is clear that Kant gives us reason to expect such a conclusion from those who attempt to offer a moral view in the absence of religious faith. Robert Adams aptly describes the problem as that of moral faith. We have to have faith that moral action will allow us to accomplish our goals, and yet the world is such that there is no reason to believe this is, in general, the case. As Kant rightly saw, religious faith is needed to sustain moral faith if a moral view is going to be able to meet a certain kind of consequentialist challenge.