There’s a great debate between William Lane Craig and Shelley Kagan on this subject, found here.
For WLC, he reifies morality as if it is an “object” in the world that “exists”. The problem is that behavior “manifests in reality” and insofar as our words describing them “manifest” as some utterance, that’s all there is to it. Our moral sensibilities and reasoning over things we ought to do, these exist. As much as we can engage the world in ways that enrich our lives and other’s, this is the measure and standard by which all actions are held accountable. I think that though my approach would have been more direct, Kagan does a much better job of discounting Craig as having utterly silly expectations and showing the shallow results of such a view. In making that case, Kagan comes off as practical and affable. You can hear Craig in the last parting seconds admit to Kagan’s success with a bit of a blush: “That was really good!”, said in a bit of an embarrassed chuckle.
All moral judgment is subjective. It is objective individually when the standard in ethical speak — any “perfectly rational person” — would agree with an individual’s course of action. Publicly, objectivity is found via intersubjective agreement, where we see the theoretical “perfectly rational person” coming to life; reasonable people, wanting to believe only what is justifiable, true, and who by nature, only wish to live in the kind of world which is good.
Morality, subjectivity, objectivity are not objects which exist but are instead, ways of thinking about, and being in, the world.
John Shook took him to task … so well that WLC could only respond with an appeal to negative consequence: “If objective moral values and standards don’t exist, then we’re mere animals.”
Indeed we are “mere animals”, but just the sort that trifles about building the kind of society we want, unlike bees or wolves, who also are moral agents but just sans moral reasoning.
That debate is here.
I cannot stand Craig because he knows exactly how flawed his reasoning is, yet thinks the ends do justifies the means (persuading folks through inferior reasoning, but reasoning that has emotional appeal); which is highly immoral, and ironic given he is speaking to morality!
Rarely will you find Craig debating ethics or morality at large with an actual Philosopher of Ethics. On the rare occasions he de does, things don’t go so well for him; likely explaining the very low number of such engagements. I applaud him in that he has any such debates when he does. But if his concern truly was about morality, all his time out to be spent there. Instead, he will travel to the next forum on the same topic, un-phased by comments that ought to have at least caused a moment’s pause, repeating the same poor murmurings he has for the better part of twenty years now.
As it concerns Craig however, he is the best Christian apologist in the game. As it concerns “the game”, that’s not saying much.
Just a thought.