Moral Argument

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Chantal
  • Created on: 24-04-13 21:17

Moral Argument

  • Aquinas (Fourth Way)
  • Kant (source of morality is God)
  • Freud’s Criticism (source of morality is guilt)
1 of 7


  • Not an actual argument. It aims to prove God – it implies God.
  • This argument seeks to show that in the existence of God we find the best explanation for our experience of moral consciousness.
  • In the moral behaviour of people is the proof of God’s existence.
  • We are good because God tells us to be.
2 of 7


  • Fourth of Aquinas’ Five Ways to prove the existence of God
  • This is an entry into the moral argument
  • Based on Plato’s eternal forms. The contingent realities of which the human mind is aware are merely pale copes of a greater, unseen reality which is eternal. the goodness found in humans and the world is a reflection of the perfect goodness of God. God is perfect in his very being
  • Does not suggest how good can be defined. All we know is that God is a supreme source of it and it is his very essence to be perfectly good
  • Does not specifically refer to morality itself but truth, nobility, goodness and value.
  • We have a concept of what these things are so these ideas must come from somewhere
  • There must be something that is most true, more valuable, the most noble and the most good. For Christian theologians, this is God
3 of 7


  • There is a moral law which cannot fulfil its goal unless God exists. God is required for morality. God’s existence is implied by human moral experience
  • Everybody has to seek the summon bonum
  • The duty to promote the highest good is called the categorical imperative. Following this principle means acting morally
  • Necessity of an after-life in which the achievement of the summum bonum could be accomplished
  • Moral behaviour is not invalid without God but if the goal of morality is to be achieved then God is demanded to bring it about.
  • Weaknesses of Kant:
    • Logical? Kant argues ought implies can yet he states that humans ought to bring about the summum bonum however they are unable to.
    •  summum bonum cannot be proven.
    • He states that virtue must be rewarded but claims that a moral action is performed independently of any reward or goal.
4 of 7


  • Superego – subconscious set off moral controls. Influenced by our parents and society.
  • Ego – the conscious self: most obvious personality.
  • Id – unconscious self:  basic drives and repressed memories.
  • Sexual impulses cause mental illnesses. We repress sexual impulses because they disgusting us, sending them to our unconscious, e.g. Oedipus and Electra complex.
  • Religion is an illusion based on human wishes. It meets certain psychological needs.
  • It can govern and regulate human behaviour. Based on what we want to be true as opposed to what is true – ‘wish fulfilment’. It is a neurosis that stops people thinking as adults and taking responsibility for their own lives.
5 of 7

Freud's Criticism

  • Questions Kant’s conclusion of God.
  • Challenges the notion of an absolute moral law.
  • Moral awareness comes from sources other than God, e.g. a willingness to please (esp. opposite sex parent).
  • Conscience is developed during infancy and merely helps humans live together.
  • Undermines any claim that there is a connection between God and human conscience. Morality can be explained without reference to God.
  • Dismissed any relationship between morality, conscience and God. Morality is linked to human guilt.
  • Morality is passed on by parents through childhood.
  • Conscience, morality or duty are little more than the inherited traditions of one’s family and community.
  • Kant = source of morality is God.
  • Freud =source of morality is guilt.
6 of 7



7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar Philosophy resources:

See all Philosophy resources »See all Morality resources »