Pharyngula

Atheists and morality?

The Atheist Ethicist has written a book: A Better Place: Essays on Desire Utilitarianism.

When I was young I decided to try to leave the world better than it would have been if I had never lived. To do this, I had to know what ‘A Better Place’ actually was. Thus, I spent 12 years in college studying moral philosophy. This book contains a set of essays describing pieces of the answers I think I found. I argue that we cannot reliably find those answers in scripture, in subjective sentiment, or in evolved dispositions. In fact, those who look in these places for answers often leave the world worse than it would have otherwise been. Instead, I argue for ‘desire utilitarianism’ – the idea that morality involves using praise and condemnation to promote desires that tend to fulfill other desires, and to inhibit desires that tend to thwart other desires. The details and my defense of those answers can be found inside this book. I hope that what you find inside will also inspire and help you, too, to try to make the world a better place than it would have otherwise been.

You can find a more detailed summary of the contents here—it looks interesting, but I have this intimidating stack of books I have to finish first, and my own mountain of writing to do. It’s on my list now, though! If anyone else has read it, let us know more about it; a rebuttal to the theist claim that there is no morality without god always benefits from another counterexample.