Philosophy

Articles

Morals Without Faith1

W. D. Falk

You have invited me to speak about Morals without Faith. Briefly, I take it, this question means: is there any moral law for agnostics? But it might be more interesting to put it rather differently: to ask, not simply whether there is a moral law for those who do not believe in God, but whether there is any such law even for those who do independent of their belief? We are then asking: Does being under a moral law mean nothing more than being commanded by God? Is the only incentive for obeying it in our love or fear of Him, the only criterion by which to judge the morality of actions in their conformity to a revealed standard? Or would it be more true to say that the law which God wishes us to obey is that law to which we ought to conform because it corresponds to our nature and conditions in this world, a law which, apart from being God's will, we can understand as being indispensable to the kind of beings we are?

Footnotes

1 Paper read to the Oxford University Socratic Club, October 18, 1943.