RE: [asa] Dawkins new book

From: Thomas Pearson <>
Date: Sun Oct 25 2009 - 23:58:35 EDT

On Saturday, Ocotber 24, 2209, "Schwarzwald" wrote:

>>>For materialist-naturalism, objective moral values, purposes, and meanings are not available even potentially.<<<


I don't see why not -- unless, of course, you have inflated the meaning of "objective" to include particulars that don't belong to a strict definition of "objective," such as (1) grounded in an unassailable source and/or (2) universal in scope and application. But neither of those are required in order to achieve objectivity. I'm assuming that "objective" means something like "public," or "not simply residing in, or justified by, the subjectivity of a particular individual."


>>>And by this I mean, insofar as someone says "Well, perhaps there are objective and external/fundamental moral values, purposes, and meanings to life and reality", they are rejecting the materialist-naturalist worldview. To even search for these things is to question or reject the truth of the stated philosophy.<<<


But why should anyone believe that anything such as "external/fundamental moral vlaues, purposes and meanings to life and reality" is necessary for something to be objective?


For example: on our campus, as on most university campuses, we have a policy against plagiarism. It is a public, objective policy, justified by its connection to other university policies, and to roughly similar policies at many other schools. But its objectivity is not based on the fact that it has a universal application (it doesn't), nor on possession of any sort of "fundamental/external values, purposes and meanings to life and reality" (it certainly isn't). It is objective because it is a promulgated rubric that governs our common life together in this particular community.


It's not at all clear to me why a "materialist-naturalist" cannot lay claim to objective moral values, purposes and meanings in approximately the same way. They may not be universal or grounded in an unassailable source, but that doesn't disqualify them from being objective.


Am I missing something here?


Tom Pearson



Thomas D. Pearson

Department of History & Philosophy

The University of Texas-Pan American

Edinburg, Texas

e-mail: <>




To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Mon Oct 26 00:00:58 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Mon Oct 26 2009 - 00:00:58 EDT