In Morality, Religious and Secular: The Dilemma of the Traditional Conscience, Basil Mitchell wrestles with the relationship between morality and theism. Through a critical examination of three wholly secular moral theories—rational/scientific humanism, romantic humanism and liberal humanism—he concludes that non-religious moralities, though simpler in some ways, fail to meet the demands of the ‘traditional conscience’. He argues that morals are essentially a matter of necessity, a product of human needs, undergirded by accepted conceptions of personhood and relationality. As the Western moral tradition has been most profoundly shaped by the teachings of Christianity, Mitchell questions whether or not this morality can be maintained in a wholly secular climate.
Morality: Religious and Secular
In chapter 1, ‘Our Contemporary Moral Confusion’, Mitchell introduces the subject of his discussion by describing the ambiguity of the contemporary moral climate and the ever-shifting relationship between morality and religion, citing the popular conception of ‘moral decline’ yet without any agreed-upon sense of what this means. The resulting perplexity, this ‘moral confusion’, is his concern in the lectures.
- Brannon Hancock, University of Glasgow