Posted by: Randall Niles | August 31, 2011

No More Morality – Ethicists without Ethics

I just read Joel Marks’ piece in The New York Times, “Confessions of an Ex-Moralist” (The Opinion Pages, August 21, 2011).

It seems Dr. Marks is the latest “ethicist” to publicly declare that there’s no difference between right and wrong. In fact, as a scholar at the Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics at Yale University, Professor Marks now honestly declares:

“The religious fundamentalists are correct: without God, there is no morality. But they are incorrect, I still believe, about there being a God. Hence, I believe, there is no morality.”

As a naturalist/atheist, Marks used to hold to the deontological view of morality. Allegedly, this view does not require God (a transcendent standard) to distinguish between right and wrong. However, Marks now maintains that this is just as unreasonable as believing in the Divine.

Through a series of articles in Philosophy Now, Dr. Marks fully developed his “Amoral Manifesto” throughout 2010. In the process, he had an “anti-epiphany,” in which he ultimately grasped that “morality was nothing more than a fuzzy subjective feeling.”

“I retain my strong preference for honest dialectical dealings in a context of mutual respect. It’s just that I am no longer giving premises in moral arguments; rather, I am offering considerations to help us figure out what to do. I am not attempting to justify anything; I am trying to motivate informed and reflective choices…. But this won’t be because a god, a supernatural law or even my conscience told me I must, I ought, I have an obligation. Instead I will be moved by my head and my heart. Morality has nothing to do with it.”

Remember, this is a top ethicist scholar in the area of bioethics.

Dr. Marks’ coming-out party reminds me of another shindig shortly after President Obama’s inauguration. In early March 2009, with a cloud of witnesses in the East Room of the White House (“more happy scientists than I’ve seen,” said Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science), President Obama abolished the Bush-era restraints on stem-cell research and declared the following:

“Our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values. It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda—and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.”

Here’s a thought… As more and more “ethicists” in the medical establishment declare there’s no such thing as ethics, on what basis is our medical community (our culture) going to make bioethical decisions in areas such as abortion, euthanasia, cloning, stem-cell research, organ harvesting, end-of-life decisions, etc.? Who’s “fuzzy subjective feeling” are we gonna run with at the next meeting of the Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics?

Just Thinking,

Randall Niles


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