A Critique of Moral Philosophy -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 22:3 (Summer 2005)
Article: A Critique of Moral Philosophy
Author: Anonymous

A Critique of Moral Philosophy

Glenn F. Stewart

M.Div. in International Church Planting
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587

Throughout the history of ideas, the idea of the good, i.e., ‘ethical theory’, can be observed as far as back as man has kept records. In the Bible, just after the creation account, some of the first words that are recorded in the Bible concern the issue of good and evil (Gen. 2:17). Whether a person is religious or not, the issue of good and evil is pertinent and relevant to everyone. The purpose of this paper is to survey the epistemology of moral philosophy throughout the history of ideas, and find the standard(s) used throughout history. Four main categories of thought will be used to confine this work, and then an evaluation of who or what is the best standard will follow.

The thesis has been narrowed to a manageable task by dividing the paper into three parts. First, the reader will be introduced to moral philosophy in general and also asked to consider four divisions of ethics along with their distinctions. In the second division, a survey of the history of moral philosophy and the standard for what is moral will be evaluated. Finally, an evaluation of who or what is the best standard will be presented. The standard is either noncosmological, i.e., man is the standard, or the standard is a cosmological one; i.e., God is the standard. It should be understood that this entire paper is written from a conservative, evangelical, Christian perspective. Not all the scholars referenced are of the same perspective.

Introduction to Moral Philosophy

In general, ethical theory can be differentiated by two terms. The first one is normative ethics and the other is metaethical ethics. Milton D. Hunnex explains, using these two terms, that an attempt can be made either:

  1. 1) To identify the universal principle(s) of morality to which all men ought to appeal to guide or to justify their behavior, i.e., an ideal or true code of morality (normative ethics); or
  2. 2) To analyze or describe the way or ways in which moral judgements are actually used (metaethics).1

Both the normative aspect of ethical theory and metaethics (which pertains to the words, statements, and judgments, or moral language) are present throughout this work.

Normative ethics may be either teleological or deontological or varying combinations of both.2 For the sake of dis...

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