_The Athiest’s Primer_ is a concise but wide-ranging introduction to a variety of arguments, concepts, and issues pertaining to belief in God. In lucid and engaging prose, Malcom Murray offers a penetrating yet fair-minded critique of the traditional arguments for the existence of God. He then explores a number of other important issues relevant to religious belief, such as the problem of suffering and the relationship between religion and morality, in each case arguing that atheism is preferable to theism. The (...) book will appeal to both students and professionals in the philosophy of religion, as well as general audiences interested in the topic. (shrink)
How are we meant to behave? And how are we to defend whatever answer we give? Morals and Consent grounds our notion of morality in natural evolution, and from that basis, Malcolm Murray shows why contractarianism is a far more viable moral theory than is widely believed. The scope of Morals and Consent has two main parts: theory and application. In his discussion of theory, Murray defends contractarianism by appealing to evolutionary game theory and metaethical analyses. His main argument is (...) that we are not going to find morality as an objective fact in the world, and that instead, we can understand morality as a reciprocal cooperative trait. From this minimal moral architecture, Murray derives his innovative consent principle. The application of the theory, detailing what contractarians can – or ought to – say about moral matters, takes up the greater portion of the work. Murray offers a trenchant examination of what moral constraints we can claim concerning death, sex, beneficence, and liberty. By focusing on evolutionary contractarianism and the epistemic justification of our moral claims – or lack thereof – Malcolm Murray’s Morals and Consent is a serious advance in the field of applied ethics and fills an important void. (shrink)
Let us define prejudice as a propensity to treat members of a particular outgroup as having less moral worth than members of one's own group. Racism and sexism are kinds of prejudice, but so, too, is homophobia, as well as some fervent nationalisms.1 Prejudice is viewed as a problem for evolutionary ethics: prejudice clearly exists in our world, yet we also deem prejudice immoral.2 How can an evolutionary account explain the fit of a trait x at the same time as (...) explaining the fit of a trait that tries to expunge x? If moral traits are those with fit , why would we not say prejudice is moral, as opposed to immoral? If both prejudice and moral indignation against prejudice can be explained on evolutionary models, what use are evolutionary models? This problem is a specific application of the general descriptive-normative problem. As even one of the evolutionary game theory pioneers, Maynard Smith, observes, "A scientific theory—Darwinism or any other—has nothing to say about the value of a human being."3 Assuming Smith is not doubting that humans have value, I believe that he is wrong here. The value of human beings is not something that we discover. Rather, we find that ascribing value to human beings confers advantage to the ascribers, and that advantage can be tracked through evolutionary models. (shrink)
In this paper, I claim there is nothing morally wrong with homosexuals adopting children. It is often argued that even if we ought to tolerate homosexuals in society, we must nevertheless forbid them from raising children. This is simply preposterous. There is no good argument for maintaining it, as I hope to demonstrate here.
In an era of information overload, our need to learn how to critically evaluate the growing flood of information has never been greater. Critical Reflection showcases the role of reason in a world saturated by media-enhanced persuasion and complex scientific and technological jargon.Drawing from the classic philosophical texts, this engaging textbook on the art of analyzing arguments is also relevant to today's undergraduates in its use of real-life examples and exercises drawn mainly from media and politics. Malcolm Murray and Nebojsa (...) Kujundzic cover the standard subjects in a one-semester course on critical thinking, offering ways to analyze arguments. (shrink)
To show that morality is in one's interest, the challenge put forward by Hobbes's Foole, we must first be clear what is meant by something's being in one's interest. Defining self-interest in an external or objective sense (so that claiming morality really satisfies her self-interest, albeit in ways she will never appreciate) will not placate the Foole. Self-interest, for the Foole, must be understood in terms that she will endorse. Are such terms possible? Subjective interpretations of self-interest have been accused (...) of incoherence for two separate reasons. First, calling 'good' that which we desire gets the order backward, since the desirability feature is what causes us to desire it. Second, subjective accounts cannot properly explain the phenomenon of mistaken desires, or accommodate reflection on our desires with the intent on warding off such mistakes. My goal here is to show how a subjective account of self-interest is not self-defeating in these ways. (shrink)