The Atheist's Primer

Broadview Press
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The Athiest’s Primer is a concise but wide-ranging introduction to a variety of arguments, concepts, and issues pertaining to belief in God. In lucid and engaging prose, Malcom Murray offers a penetrating yet fair-minded critique of the traditional arguments for the existence of God. He then explores a number of other important issues relevant to religious belief, such as the problem of suffering and the relationship between religion and morality, in each case arguing that atheism is preferable to theism. The book will appeal to both students and professionals in the philosophy of religion, as well as general audiences interested in the topic.
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About the author

Malcolm Murray is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Prince Edward Island. His previous publications include The Moral Wager: Evolution and Contract (Springer, 2007).

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Additional Information

Broadview Press
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Published on
Apr 6, 2010
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Philosophy / Metaphysics
Philosophy / Religious
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In the following chapters, I offer an evolutionary account of morality and from that extrapolate a version of contractarianism I call consent theory. Game theory helps to highlight the evolution of morality as a resolution of interpersonal conflicts under strategic negotiation. It is this emphasis on strategic negotiation that underwrites the idea of consent. Consent theory differs from other contractarian models by abandoning reliance on rational self-interest in favour of evolutionary adaptation. From this, more emphasis will be placed on consent as natural convergence rather than consent as an idealization. My picture of contractarianism, then, ends up looking more like the relativist model offered by Harman, rather than the rational (or pseudo-rational) model offered by Gauthier, let alone the Kantian brands of Rawls or Scanlon. So at least some of my discussion will dwell on why it is no loss to abandon hope for the universal, categorical morality that rational models promise. In the introduction, I offer the betting analogy that underwrites the remaining picture. There are some bets where the expected utility is positive, though the odds of winning on this particular occasion are exceedingly low. In such cases, we cannot hope to give an argument that taking the bet is rational. The only thing we can say is that those predisposed to take this kind of bet on these kinds of occasions will do better than those with other dispositions, so long as such games occur often enough.
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