[This series is part of Section Four, Ethics and the Third Person. An index with links to all parts of the work as they are posted can be found [url=https://forum.evangelicaluniversalist.com/t/sword-to-the-heart-ethics-and-the-third-person/1335/1]here.]
[This series constitutes the start of Chapter 36, “Discovered Rational Secular Ethics?”.]
To put things bluntly: so far, no good.
Each of the three general theories of ethics have been examined, and found wanting. Invented rational ethics; discovered non-rational ethics; discovered rational ethics–none of these turned out to be objectively ethical in the end.
Objective realities were certainly connected to each of the theories–although in the case of God the objective reality was posited rather than commonly agreed upon. (Notice that in my recent discussion of theistic ethics, I didn’t try to connect the proposition of God to my previously developed synthetic argument. There is a reason for that; but I will discuss it later.) To a sceptic, this could hardly be considered an advantage!–especially since the result was demonstrably no better than what a sceptic could do with the first two theories (specifically the first one, invented rational ethics). Which of course is precisely why many sceptics don’t even bother with the proposition, but stick with the ethical husks they can derive from evident realities: the choices of people; the reactions induced by environment (internal, external).
There is, however, a secular theory of ethics still left over!–one being turned to by secular theorists in increasing numbers, because it seems to offer a way out of the vicious dilemma of having an ethical base that is, itself, non-ethical in quality. To understand and appreciate the strength of this contention, we must first go back and re-consider: why did the other theories fail?