[The following is an excerpt from a letter dated
June 2, 1995, written by Murphey to a retired philosophy professor friend. It discusses the distinction between a “prudential” moral code and one based on metaphysics or theology.]
On the matter of morality, there is a deeper point for me to raise. That is that I see no theological or metaphysical basis for morality; and, in the absence of some such basis, would have mankind form its moral postulates on prudential grounds. After it has done so, mankind should seek to infuse the moral generalizations with a higher standing, backing them up with cultural reinforcements and social expectations. This is where the weakness of the prudential rationale becomes evident: people seem to need something “outside themselves” demanding compliance; and in the absence of that they do not feel compelled. Despite this weakness in the prudential, I find myself unwilling to fall back upon what I consider to be fictions in order to supply the basis for morality. Russell Kirk, the quintessential paleo-conservative, says that humanity is bound to live in the jungle without God. If that’s true, it poses a real problem for those of us who don’t believe in a God.