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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome addition to literature on religion & morality, April 8, 2003
This review is from: Atheism, Morality, and Meaning (Prometheus Lecture Series) (Paperback)
Most of the recent literature on the relationship between religion and morality is written by theists. It is rare to find anything in print by an atheist on *contemporary* moral arguments for God's existence. It is even less common to find an atheist who discusses such arguments without denying moral realism or moral objectivism. Michael Martin's book is a welcome exception to this trend. Martin responds to moral arguments for God's existence *as a moral realist and as a moral objectivist*.
Martin does not just defend atheism against moral apologetics; he goes on the offensive, presenting an affirmative case for an atheistic moral realism. He also makes many interesting points about the idea that Christianity (and not just God in general) is the foundation of ethics, and offers a detailed discussion of the implications of Christianity and naturalism for the meaning of life.
The breadth of the territory covered by Martin is impressive; I know of no other book on the market that covers such a variety of metaethical issues from an atheistic perspective. Anyone interested in the relationship between naturalism, theism, and morality will find Martin's book useful. Moreover, unlike many books on metaethics, Martin's book is not highly technical, which helps to make it accessible to the lay reader.
However, the book does have its limitations. Many nonphilosophers will find Martin's presentation and defense of Ideal Observer Theory counterintuitive and unconvincing. Martin says nothing about the atheistic justification for adopting the moral point of view. And Martin says little or nothing about some of the influential moral arguments advanced by theists. For example, he says nothing about Robert Adams's work on the social nature of obligation and very little about George Mavrodes's argument about the "queerness of morality." In this sense, Martin's discussion is incomplete.
Nevertheless, despite these shortcomings, this book would make a useful addition to the library of anyone interested in the relationship between atheism and morality.
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