Richard Carrier vs. Alonzo Fyfe on Morality

by Luke Muehlhauser on January 18, 2010 in Ethics,Indexes,Resources

Here’s an index of the ongoing debate between Richard Carrier and Alonzo Fyfe on the nature of atheistic morality.

I’ll keep this list updated if the discussion continues between Carrier and Fyfe.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Maher January 18, 2010 at 10:54 am

thanks Luke. You should totally talk them into doing a series of letters (like you do) for the benefit of the secular world.


urbster1 January 18, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Thanks so much for doing this! I highly respect both of these individuals, but I have to say I am a huge Richard Carrier fanboy :D


W January 18, 2010 at 4:30 pm

This is so great! Thanks for doing this, Luke, I was hoping these two would interact at some point.


Ben January 19, 2010 at 5:51 am

The interaction was lame. They aren’t debating anything of substance, it seems. Just quibbling over the different ways to put the same thing. It’s annoying. I blame Fyfe.



Yair January 20, 2010 at 12:57 am

Contrary to Carrier and Ben, I think they do debate something of substance – metaethics. Carrier advocates a scientifically-motivated metaethics (and way of thinking) that could be dubbed “naturalistic egoism”. Fyfe advocates a philosophically-motivated metaethics and way of thinking that perhaps deserves the name “definitionism”, which ultimately results in that most evanescent of divine command theories – desirism.

What Carrier misses until the 5th exchange is that while they are both are talking about desire fulfillment, Carrier is talking about egoism whereas Fyfe is talking about submission to the desirist god – and even at that point Carrier doesn’t really get just how definitionalist Fyfe is.

Carrier wins the day, of course. There is no competition. Although much of the “debate” is them missing the metaethical fact that they are talking about different things. Carrier does make several mistakes here and there, but his metaethics is practical.I’m not so sure about his general epistemology – but his scientific and historical knowledge makes up for that. I’ll definitely will be buying his book.


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