Ways of Acquiring Moral Truth

Kenneth Cauthen

Copyright © by Kenneth Cauthen 2000. All rights reserved. The essay that formerly was on this page was published as part of my The Ethics of Belief: A Bio-Historical Approach,  2 vols. (Lima, OH: CSS Publishing Co., 2001). Brief highlights are included here.

Three widely employed approaches for acquiring moral truth are based on natural law, human reason, and divine revelation. Supporters maintain that their preferred method can provide moral norms that are universally valid and objectively true. I  argue that they provide no path to certain truth but only to perspectives that can be justified only by a set of presuppositions internal to themselves. This does not necessarily mean that they do not offer us universal truth that is objectively valid but only that their methods provide no guarantee of having done so.

The conclusion of the matter is that there is no way of acquiring moral truth that is the way. There are only multiple ways that various communities employ. This is the fact, stubborn, irreducible, persistent, and ineradicable, that we must come to terms with in practical terms. By trying to stand where others stand, we may see some of what they see, and if others make an effort to look at things from our vantage point, they may discover what we are convinced of. Altogether we may grow in mutual appreciation and find widening circles of agreement while we continue to do what we must and believing what we cannot deny. 

I invite comments, evaluations, refutations, and other responses.
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This is one in a series of essays on theology and ethics. A complete list can be found at:
Theological Essays
Presently, the following essays are available:
About the Author
A List of my Books
What I Believe
Interpreting the Bible Today
The Authority of the Bible
Using the Bible with Integrity
Natural Law and Moral Relativism
What is Truth -- and Does it Matter?
A Doctrine of God
Hints Toward a Doctrine of God
Trinity: God, Christ, Spirit
God as Masculine and Feminine
Theodicy: the Problem of Evil
Theodicy: A Heterodox Alternative
The Many Faces of Evil
Christ and Christians
A Critique of Niebuhr's Christ and Culture
The Incompatibility of Christianity and Civilization
Christian Ethics
Process Christian Ethics
The Ethics of Belief
Relativism, Morality, Belief
Capital Punishment
Physician Assisted Suicide
Bioethical Decision-Making
Drug Policy
Theology and Ecology
Religion and Politics
Science and Theology
Church and State
A Short Biographical Sketch

For fun I have rewritten some Mother Goose Rhymes for an electronic age.

Mother Goose Goes Electronic
Having a Web site is becoming a family enterprise. First to have a Page was my son.
Paul Cauthen
The latest entry is that of my son-in-law and daughter.
Ric Brown and Nancy Cauthen
These sites are very different, but both are creative, imaginative productions. They would welcome a visit.
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