Purpose in the universe: the moral and metaphysical case for ananthropocentic purposivism

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Two familiar world views dominate Western philosophy: materialist atheism and the benevolent God of the Abrahamic faiths. This book explores a third way. Ananthropocentric Purposivism claims that there is a cosmic purpose, but human beings are irrelevant to it. It develops a philosophical case for Ananthropocentric Purposivism that is at least as strong as the case for either theism or atheism. The book borrows traditional theist arguments to defend a cosmic purpose. These include cosmological, teleological, ontological, meta-ethical, and mystical arguments. It then borrows traditional atheist arguments to reject a human-centred purpose. These include arguments based on evil, diversity, and the scale of the universe. The book also highlights connections between morality and metaphysics, arguing that evaluative premises play a crucial and underappreciated role in metaphysical debates about the existence of God, and Ananthropocentric Purposivism mutually supports an austere consequentialist morality based on objective values. The book concludes that, by drawing on a range of secular and religious ethical traditions, a non-human-centred cosmic purpose can ground a distinctive human morality. Our moral practices, our view of the moral universe, and our moral theory are all transformed if we shift from the familiar choice between a universe without meaning and a universe where humans matter to the less self-aggrandizing thought that, while it is about something, the universe is not about us.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages435
ISBN (Electronic)9780191813993
ISBN (Print)9780199646142, 9780198822776
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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