Humanism and Morality

Sophia 50 (1):135-139 (2011)
A theory of morality acceptable to humanists must be one that can be accepted independently of religion. In this paper, I argue that while there is such a theory, it is a non-standard one, and its acceptance would have some far-reaching consequences. As one might expect, the theory is similar to others in various ways. But it is not the same as any of them. Indeed, it is a radically new theory. Like Hume’s ethics, it is founded on our natural sociability, and feelings of empathy for others. Like Aristotle’s theory, it incorporates an ethics of virtue. Like Kant’s theory, it regards the set of moral principles as those appropriate for a socially ideal society. But unlike Kant’s theory, it is essentially utilitarian. I call it ‘social contractual utilitarianism’
Keywords Humanism  Secularism  Social policy  De facto social contracts  Social contractual utilitarianism  Morals as social ideals  Eudaimonia  Non-dominance theories of morality  Individual  Collective social agents
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    John Stuart Mill (1962). Utilitarianism. Cleveland, World Pub. Co..
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