Zagzebski, Linda. Morality and Religion
2005, in William J. Wainwright (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Added by: Emily Paul
Chapter Introduction: Almost all religions contain a code of morality, and in spite of the factthat there are moral codes and philosophies that do not rely upon anyreligion, it has been traditionally argued that there are at least threeimportant ways in which morality needs religion: the goal of the morallife is unreachable without religious practice, religion is necessary toprovide moral motivation, and religion provides morality with itsfoundation and justification. These three ways in which morality may need religion are independent, but I argue that there are conceptual connectionsamong the standard arguments for them. I identify reasons for resistance tothe idea that morality needs religion and then turn to arguments for each ofthe three ways in which morality may need religion. All three are related toclassic forms of the moral argument for the existence of God. I conclude bycomparing classic Divine Command Theory with my Divine Motivation Theory andargue that the latter has advantages over the former in the way it providesa theological foundation for ethics.
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Comment: Useful to teach this after soliciting intuitions about whether religion is a suitable basis for morality - and the general relationship between religion and morality. Could perhaps follow a unit on Divine Command Theory and the Euthyphro Dilemma. Could lead to a nice seminar debate around the question of something like 'Is Religion a Suitable Basis for Morality'? It seems students are more inclined to answer 'no', but perhaps this article can do more to motivate debate from the 'yes' group of the debate.