The Truth About Right and Wrong: Cuneo Publishes Work on Ethics
MANY AMERICANS BELIEVE that the way to gauge morality is to check society's thermometer. Whatever is okay with the culture is what's right. But if there are no moral truths, asks Assistant Professor of Philosophy Terence Cuneo, then would it be okay for society to, for example, set children on fire?
Typically, when Cuneo asks this question, the Seattle Pacific University faculty member gets an emphatic "no." Very few people, he says, stick with the concept of moral relativism when pressed.
As a Yale University freshman, Cuneo became fascinated with C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, which deals frankly with the struggle between moral relativism and moral realism. "I'd finally found someone who was clearly talking about these subjects," he says. In graduate school, he changed his focus from the philosophy of religion to ethics when his advisor suggested it would be easier to find a job. "I'd always been interested in foundational questions of ethics, anyway," says Cuneo. "I would often ask myself, ‘Are there any moral facts? And if so, what is their nature?'"
For his post-doctoral work in Holland, Cuneo wrote articles, edited books on topics related to ethics, and met with other philosophers to discuss works in progress. In 2001, he published an article in the journal Noûs titled "Are Moral Qualities Response-Dependent?" Cuneo's short answer: "No." Many philosophers argue that moral qualities are as dependent on a person's subjective response as colors are, but he argues to the contrary.
Based on his Christian convictions, Cuneo believes that "moral reality is grounded in the nature of God."
The philosopher began teaching at SPU full-time in September 2001. Several of his books are forthcoming, including The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Reid, which he co-edited for Cambridge University Press.
Back to the top
Back to Faculty
From the President
The Board of Trustees adopted a new SPU mission statement in May 2002. "I believe passionately in what we are trying to articulate here," says President Philip Eaton.
Graduates celebrate their hard-earned diplomas and create The Class of 2002 Endowment. [Campus]
Tiffany Bricks Project
Alumni, friends and members of the SPU community are invited to purchase and inscribe a brick from the former Tiffany Hall. Funds will directly benefit student scholarships.
Varsity Pair Rows to Gold
The Falcon women's varsity pair crew shell rowed to its first national championship gold medal in the Dad Vail Regatta.
Nick Glancy, Class of 2002, writes about September 11, the Gospel of John and J.R.R. Tolkien in this new Response department.