Volume 16, Issue 2, Autumn 2011
Does Ordinary Morality Imply Atheism? A Reply to Maitzen
Stephen Maitzen has recently argued that ordinary morality implies atheism. In the following, I argue that the soundness of Maitzen’s argument depends on
a principle that is implausible, what I call the Recipient’s Benefit Principle: All else being equal, if an act A produces a net benefit for the individual on the receiving end of A, then one cannot have a moral obligation to prevent A. Specifically, the Recipient’s Benefit Principle (RBP) must be true if premise (2) of Maitzen’s argument is to be true. But, RBP is likely false, as it generates counterintuitive implications as well as conflicts with another principle both plausible and seemingly adopted by most of us, what I call the Preventing Immorality Principle: All else being equal, if an act A is seriously immoral, then one has a moral obligation to prevent A.