I've taken this from the comment line to its own line.
Loftus' response (linked above) to my paper and subsequent comments is interesting.
I have attempted to defend a position I call Divine Nature Theory (DNT) which I will try to summarise here. DNT seeks to avoid the Euthyphro dilemma by saying that God's commands are rooted in his nature. This is intended to make morality dependant on God without making it arbitrary.
Questions then arise about how we come to our knowledge of morality and how we know that God is good.
My view is that God gave us the gift of conscience, and that we can (in general) trust our conscience even if we don't know that it was given to us by God.
In this way we can use our conscience to form moral beliefs ... including ultimately the belief that God is good. Here I've been charged with accepting an objectionable circularity. I admit the circularity, I only deny that it's objectionable.
Loftus comments that he thinks "inherent circularity in trying to defend the DNT points to the non-existence of God."
I'm not sure what exactly comes under the word "defend" here. The circularity appears in offering a justification of our belief that God is good which includes a description of the where our conscience has come from any why it's reliable. This justification is one that I offer within DNT and is a defence in the negative sense of showing how moral knowledge is possible on DNT. It is not a defense in the sense of an argument for DNT. Of course if there were no "negative" defense then a positive one would be out of the question ... but that's a different point.
Anyway, Loftus goes on to quote my common response here, which is an analogy with the evolutionary account of our senses. It goes like this ...
“It might be helpful to consider the similarities of a non-moral case: trusting our senses. One theory of why we should trust our senses is that natural selection would have eliminated species whose senses weren't reliable. But why should we accept this theory? Because it's confirmed by scientific data? But that data comes to us through our senses! The justification is circular.”
What would Loftus say if to me "the inherent "inherent circularity in trying to defend evolution points to the truth of creationism."?
If Loftus thinks the circularity involved in DNT counts against it, then surely this circularity is equally damaging to evolution.
Loftus' response here is:
"But is this really an analogous case for our moral faculties? We are able to justify our senses pragmatically, but that’s all. They seem to help us live and work and play in our world. Can we trust our senses to tell us what is real? No."
So the case is apparently not analogus because we cannot have anything but a pragmatic confidence in our senses. Does Loftus think that we can have more confidence (and not of a pragmatic kind) in our moral beliefs than in our beliefs based on our senses? If so, this is surely a very unusual position for an atheist.
I don't really see what else Loftus can mean by saying that the two cases aren't analogous. But perhaps his problem is just that while the analogy is a good one it can't do the work I want it to.
Presumably it wont do the work I want it to because beliefs based on our senses are trusted only pragmatically but I'm trying to defend a higher form of confidence for our moral beliefs.
Now I am trying to defend a higher form of confidence for our moral beliefs than a mere pragmatic confidence, but if this is Loftus' view then he has really given the game away ... since it would follow that on his view we can only have (at best) a pragmatic confidence in our moral beliefs, in other words our moral beliefs would be those we can get away with espousing. This doesn't seem to be a good way of arguing that Atheism can ground an objective morality just as well as Theism.
But perhaps Loftus is more confident in his moral beliefs than in those based on his senses. If so, I'd like to know where he thinks our moral beliefs come from and how such moral confidence is possible in a world of scepticism about both God and our senses.