Friday, October 14, 2011

Refutation of Kant's "On God and Morality"

I wrote this for one of my philosophy classes and thought I would post it on here since I haven't done anything with the blog for a few weeks. Hope you enjoy.

Immanuel Kant, having written a full refutation of the Ontological Argument for the Existence of God, thought providing logical proofs for God’s existence were (becoming) an exercise in futility; most arguments can’t prove the existence of any god, and those that at least get you reasonably close, don’t prove the specific god you want. Given that, Kant tried to find an alternative reason for believing in God, while not really demonstrating that the deity exists.
His reason is, rather, a pragmatic one. Essentially, what his argument comes down to is this: 1) As rational beings, we have no reason to act morally unless our good deeds get rewarded and evil deeds get punished. 2) Since we don’t see that happening in this life, it is necessary to assume the existence of a god that will make up for the lack of justice we currently face.

The argument is simple enough, but under further analysis, I don’t think it stands up. First of all, excluding the idea that we don’t have a good reason to think a God exists, if injustice is all around us, and God can’t (or won’t) seem to do anything about it while we’re here on Earth, what gives anyone the idea, that he would want to make up for the lack of justice, or even be capable of doing it after we die? So far the evidence seems to be against the concept of a god that has some sort of concern for the state of justice in the world. If I can quote Bertrand Russell, "Supposing you got a crate of oranges that you opened, and you found all the top layer of oranges bad, you would not argue, ‘The underneath ones must be good, so as to redress the balance.’ You would say, ‘Probably the whole lot is a bad consignment’”.

The other objection I will raise is that the argument advanced by Kant precludes the idea that the reasons to act morally could come from within life itself.  It shouldn’t seem unreasonable to anyone (I would think) that purpose for morality can come from the simple fact that there are multiple conscious beings that have to share a living space, at the very least. We can learn to care about each other and desire to get along based on our own shared circumstances, without having to believe something that isn’t supported.

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