Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

The essays included in this volume were written over a number of years and for a variety of occasions. They have, of course, a variety of themes and a battery of distinct arguments. They have, however, a unifying and a central claim. It is the claim, against an array of diverse beliefs and arguments, premodern, modern and post-modern, that human beings can still make sense of their lives and...

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CHAPTER 1 God and the Good: Does Morality Need Religion?

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pp. 13-23

It is the claim of many influential Christian and Jewish theologians (Brunner, Buber, Barth, Niebuhr, and Bultmann, to take outstanding examples) that the only genuine basis for morality is in religion. And any old religion is not good enough. The only truly adequate foundation for moral belief is a religion that acknowledges the absolute sovereignty of the Lord found in the prophetic religions. These theologians will readily grant what is plainly true, namely, that as a matter of fact many non-religious people...

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CHAPTER 2 Hobbesist and Humean Alternatives to a Religious Morality

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pp. 23-40

In his letter concerning toleration John Locke remarked, ". . . those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of a God. Promises, covenants, and oaths,which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist.The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all."1 When we read this now, we feel the cultural distance between ourselves...

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CHAPTER 3 An Examination of the Thomistic Theory of Natural Moral Law

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pp. 41-68

Theories of natural moral law have deep roots in our culture. They have emerged again and again in our western tradition, not, however, without important variations. They are less appealing in times of social and political stability than in times of social crisis. In times when man turns against man, voices are always raised to remind us that man by virtue of his very humanity...

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CHAPTER 4 The Myth of Natural Law

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pp. 69-84

Natural moral law conceptions, grounded as they traditionally have been on metaphysical or theological principles, are myth-eaten and they ought to be discarded; aseptic, demythologized conceptions of "natural law," like those set forth by Professor Hart in his The Concept of Law, are essentially sound and are fundamental in displaying the moral foundations of legal systems. Yet we must also...

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CHAPTER 5 On Taking Human Nature as the Basis of Morality: An Exercise in Linguistic Analysis

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pp. 85-100

Generalizations about linguistic analysis and ethics are not likely to be very useful; nor,as a general rule, are general descriptions of linguistic methods in philosophy enlightening. Unless one has actually seen some live philosophical tangle unsnarled by such a technique, one will not be very convinced by even a very accurate general description of the methods used. On the...

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CHAPTER 6 Scepticism and Human Rights

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pp. 101-118

It is unusual nowadays when a philosophic defense of human rights or natural rights is undertaken to attempt to treat the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or the right to property, privacy, safety, education and the like as prima facie rights, or at least as rights that are in some way indefeasible. To say these rights are prima facie is to say that such a right is a right that one can always exercise, if one...

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CHAPTER 7 On Human Rights

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pp. 119-124

I want to attempt in this chapter something that is no doubt over-ambitious. I want to ask, as bluntly as I can: are there human rights? That is, are there natural and inalienable rights which any human being anywhere, anytime, can appropriately lay claim to no matter what his situation in life and no matter in what society he finds himself? Bentham tells...

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CHAPTER 8 Grounding Rights and a Method of Reflective Equilibrium

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pp. 125-154

I try first, in sections I through IV, how there is a problem about the grounding of fundamental rights, and why skeptical challenges concerning a belief in natural rights or human rights cannot be so easily defeated or defused as some are wont to believe. I then turn, in Sections V through VIII, to a consideration of the extent to which the employment of the method of...

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CHAPTER 9 On Sticking with Secular Morality

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pp. 155-176

Before I begin a response to Donald Evans's thoughtful and generous elucidations and probing of my own views as well as his own transformations of them, I want, by way of a prolegomenon to the very idea of conceptualizing things in terms of "Religion and Irreligion," to make some remarks, some of which may have something of an embarrassing autobiographical tone. I...

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CHAPTER 10 Politics and Theology: Do We Need a Political Theology?

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pp. 177-208

I shall begin by trying to give some reasonable construal of what political theology might come to. Traditionally, and somewhat ethnocentrically, theology is taken to be that discipline which more or less systematically examines the nature and attributes of God, his relation to creatures (human and otherwise), and to the rest of the universe. Political theology concerns itself...

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CHAPTER 11 God and the Basis of Morality

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pp. 209-226

Consider the fundamental religious beliefs common to the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions. If, as it seems likely, they cannot be proven to be true, can they be reasonably believed to be true because they can in some other way be justified? What I want to know is whether it is more reasonable to hold fundamental religious beliefs, such as there is a God and that we shall...

Index

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pp. 227-230