It’s no big secret that ethicist Peter Singer doesn’t exactly agree with Christian ethics. That’s what makes his recent revelations so surprising. He has acknowledged that he has serious doubts as to whether or not his utilitarianism can provide an adequate foundation (or even adequate answers) to the problems the world faces. But he doesn’t stop there, rather he goes on to state that theistic ethicists have an advantage in having a foundation.
The article provides the absolute shocker, however, when it puts:
“He described his current position as being in a state of flux. But he is leaning towards accepting moral objectivity because he now rejects Hume’s view that practical reasoning is always subject to desire… Neither is he any more inclined to belief in God, though he did admit that there is a sense in which he “regrets” not doing so, as that is the only way to provide a complete answer to the question, why act morally? Only faith in a good God finally secures the conviction that living morally coincides with living well.”
I think this says quite a bit for Singer both as a person and as a philosopher. As a person it shows he doesn’t have much invested in himself as he’s willing to essentially turn against his entire life’s work and say, “I no longer have confidence in it.” It says that as a philosopher he’s willing to listen to other positions and contemplate them. As Edward Feser wrote (where I found a link to the original article):
But again, this is progress. The moral positions Singer is usually associated with are odious, but it takes some courage and intellectual honesty for someone with Singer’s extreme views to admit that Christian morality might have something going for it.
What is most important in all of this – aside from the hope that Singer will abandon his extreme views on infanticide and euthanasia – is it shows that Christian morality is ultimately tenable and reasonable. It provides a response to the question “Why be moral” and contains truth within it. If Christian morality is viewed as a rational response to ethics, then certainly its metaphysics must be equally, if not more, rational.