The Elements of Philosophy: III.19.101.4

“Linguistic philosophy has made important contributions (1) to the philosophy of religion (16:349a, 383a) and (2) to the development of an analytical ethics (16:160b).  (1) The early verificationalist position rejected religious discussions as useless and out of date:  Anthony Flew and Kai Nielsen continue to use “falsification” arguments against traditional interpretations of God-talk, though they remain open to dialogue with theists, who attack them on the basis that theological claims need not follow the logical patterns of empirical science, as though God were a scientific hypothesis.  Recent Wittgensteinians such as D. Z. Phillips and W. D. Hudson are sharply opposed to verificationism and maintain that it is impossible to criticize religious language absolutely; since they defend the meaningfulness of the latter, however, and at the same time deny the possibility of relevant rational criticism, they have been characterized as embracing a type of fideism.  Those who are concerned explicitly with religious language, such as Ian Ramsey and John Hick, make less stringent claims than those of traditional natural theology, but they argue that the theistic interpretation of life can be as well founded as literary and historical interpretations can be in their own fields, or again, that one can have intelligent grounds for personal commitment to a religious position without having evidence and arguments that finally exclude every alternative.  (2) As a result of their work in ethics contemporary analysts commonly distinguish between descriptive ethics, which investigates moral phenomena empirically as do the social and behavioral sciences, and normative ethics, which attempts to provide guides or norms, in the form of either moral principles or ideals, that can function both as a foundation of moral justification and as a goal for the achievement of moral excellence or goodness.  Both of these, in turn, are differentiated from metaethics or ethical theory, which deals principally with two related problems:  the meaning of ethical terms and the nature of justification.  Recent work in metaethics builds on earlier efforts in support of deontological prescriptivism, and good reasons approaches (16:161a-164c); it is concerned principally with the role of reason in moral discourse, with studies of the meaning and use of moral concepts, and with the problems of defining morality and its object (16:164d-169d). ”  (The Elements of Philosophy by Father William A. Wallace, O.P.; PART III.  //  CHAPTER 19.  CONTEMPORARY PHILOSOPHY  //  [Section] §101.  LOGIC AND ANALYSIS  //  [paragraph] 4  //   [pages] 317 and 318)

Obiter Dicta:  The word deontology is phonetically derived from two Greek words which mean “duty” (deon) and “study” (logos).  Deonotology is the study of duty and its moral application.  The website describes deontological moral theory in the following way, “Deontology is defined as an ethical theory that the morality of an action should be based on whether that action itself is right or wrong under a series of rules, rather than based on the consequences of the action.”

Key:  For an explanation of the reference and cross reference forms used in this book (e.g. [§19.6] and (11:292c), see previous posts in this blog entitled “The Elements of Philosophy:  Preface (7)” and “The Elements of Philosophy: Preface (8)”.  GBWW stands for the Great Books of the Western World by Encyclopedia Britannica and The University of Chicago.  “Syntopicon” refers to the introductory set of/to the GBWW.

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