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Research at St Andrews

Tim Mulgan

Person

Tim Mulgan
Postal address:
School of Philosophical
Anthropological & Film Studies
Edgecliffe, 5 The Scores
St Andrews
United Kingdom

Email: tpm6@st-andrews.ac.uk

Direct phone: +44 (0)1334 462486

Research overview

My current research centres around two questions. Is there a God? What do we owe to future people?

 

1. Moral and Metaphysical Arguments for Ananthropocentric Purposivism. 

This project explores the relationships between moral philosophy and an underdeveloped alternative to both atheism and traditional theism, namely: Ananthropocentric Purposivism (AP). This the view that the universe has a non-human-centred purpose – one to which human beings are irrelevant. AP is agnostic whether a purpose requires a personal creator. AP is worth exploring in part because it is a comparatively unexplored option – a middle-ground between atheism and classical theism. I argue that the metaphysical case supporting AP is at least as strong as that supporting either theism or atheism – by borrowing the best anti-theist arguments from atheists and the best anti-atheist arguments from theists. I also argue that we cannot settle the metaphysical dispute without bringing in moral judgments, and that those judgments favour AP. In short, either metaphysics supports AP, or metaphysics leaves the choice open – and then morality supports AP. Finally, AP has implications for moral philosophy – supporting a liberal impartial morality built on genuinely objective values. AP offers more robust values than atheism; and a more robust response to evil than theism.

 2. Ethics for a broken world. This project explores the morality of life within a broken world – a place where resources are insufficient to meet the basic needs of the population. As a result of climate change, this may well be the world our descendants will inherit. I argue that utilitarianism copes with the bleak realities of a broken world, while various barriers we erect against the demands of utilitarianism (notably individual rights and national boundaries) become untenable in such a world. This project also extends my earlier work on our own obligations to future people, asking how the future prospect of a broken world affects those obligations.

 

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