Philosophy Talk - The problem of moral obligation

On Monday 22nd May, SFC1 Philosophy students had the opportunity to attend a webinar (an interactive skype lecture) with Robert Stern of the University of Sheffield.

Robert spoke to us largely about different philosophers’ interpretations of what moral obligations constitute, such as Kant who believed that a moral obligation is an 'ought', a concept of which forms a large part of Kantian ethics.

He pointed out the grey areas between moral obligations and commands, and asked us to consider who the 'commander' of morality might be if this was the case. GEM Anscombe would argue that this commander is God, however problems arise with this theory if the moral agent does not believe in God’s existence.

Robert was a particularly engaging speaker, and made me curious to find out more about different philosophers’ views on moral obligations and what ethical theories best deal with the concerns surrounding them. I found it especially interesting when Robert spoke about the Euthyphro Dilemma; a dilemma introduced by Plato, in which Socrates asks whether God demands something because it is good, or whether something is good because God demands it.

I look forward to attending more talks on the subject of ethics and philosophy of religion as they never fail to stimulate topical discussion.

Arabella Sopher (SFC1)