Humanism and Morality – Brian Ellis
Abstract. A theory of morality acceptable to humanists must be one that can be accepted independently of religion. In this paper, I argue that while there is such a theory, it is a non-standard one, and its acceptance would have some far-reaching consequences. As one might expect, the theory is similar to others in various ways. But it is not the same as any of them. Indeed, it is a radically new theory. Like Hume’s ethics, it is founded on our natural sociability, and feelings of empathy for others. Like Aristotle’s theory, it incorporates an ethics of virtue. Like Kant’s theory, it regards the set of moral principles as those appropriate for a socially ideal society. But unlike Kant’s theory, it is essentially utilitarian. I call it ‘social contractual utilitarianism’.
Quote from the paper itself. Humanism is a philosophy of life for secularists, i.e., for people who believe in the separation of church and state.- by Brian Ellis, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy, La Trobe University, published in SOPHIA (2011) 50: 135 – 139.