I'm interested in a reading list of critics of secular morality. What authors and books are there on the subject? Can be a criticism of consequentialism, hedonism, utilitarianism, or simply a general approach to secular morality as a whole.

Also any books on the benefits of of natural law, divine law, etc., would be appreciated. I've read some bits of Plato and Julius Evola that touch on the subject but I'd like to know of more comprehensive works.

  • "Best" invites opinions. Would you mind rephrasing the question in a way allowing for a more objective answer?
    – Philip Klöcking
    Mar 19 '18 at 22:55
  • Yeah it's been edited, that's fine
    – Charlie
    Mar 19 '18 at 23:15
  • It is a good exercise to read the entry for natural law in: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encyclopedia_of_Philosophy in the library. You have to read it yourself to comprehend the confusion. Ernst Bloch wrote a book on natural law (MIT, 1986). I thought to myself: ah, a non-Catholic on natural law, this should be interesting. It was interesting, but what it had to do with natural law I don't exactly know.
    – Gordon
    Mar 19 '18 at 23:30
  • Here you can read about the doctrine of double truth, something can be true in religion, and false in philosophy, and vice versa. Originally from Averroes and later into France. p. 99 This in an excellent book IMO, but in a broader context than your questions. "The Meaning of History" Erich Kahler, G. Braziller (1964). This book is about history, and it is a history.
    – Gordon
    Mar 19 '18 at 23:55
  • @Gordon is CS Lewis worth reading on this subject?
    – Charlie
    Mar 20 '18 at 0:13

You might try :

Jonathan Sacks, The Persistence of Faith: Religion, Morality & Society in a Secular Age (The Reith Lectures, 1990) ISBN 10: 0297820850 / ISBN 13: 9780297820857

Keith Ward, Christianity and Ethics, 1970.

Bert Musschenga (ed.), Does Religion Matter Morally ? A Critical Reappraisal of the Thesis of Morality's Independence from Religion, 1995.


One group of people not to miss in examining secular morality are those presenting Moral Foundations Theory (MFT). See, in particular, Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind” for a book length description of it. For a video presentation on the underlying approach to rationalism, see Haidt discussing “The Rationalist Delusion in Moral Psychology”.

There are three ideas to look for in MFT.

First, the existence of multiple, innate foundations of morality that generate conflict and stability. Both the innateness and multiple foundations in MFT undermine a rationalist approach to morality, although they do not eliminate the need for reasoning.

Second, rationalism is replaced with rationalization. We make snap decisions and then ask our brains to rationalize them.

Third, political tension is described as tension between different poles of these foundations. In particular, note how the tensions between individual rights and group loyalty are expressed across these foundations.

The theory is grounded in social psychology and neuroscience and it does not have a religious motivation although it is not hostile to religion. There is a politically liberal bias but MFT describes conservative moral positions as more balanced than those usually presented by liberals.

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