|Reading for Philosophical Inquiry: A Brief Introduction to Philosophical Thinking ver. 0.21; An Open Source Reader|
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Historically, the ethics of peoples has been based on religion. Not surprisingly, ethics differ among persons and places, in part, because different cultures have different religions.
If there were to be a philosophical basis for how we ought to lead our lives and seek a good life, then this basis probably cannot be founded on religious tenets of God's existence. As we have seen, both à priori and à posteriori proofs for God's existence are not philosophically well developed enough to be reliable as a foundation for further inferences.
Thus, our task in this part of our study is to see to what extent we can base ethical principles on reason alone. Toward this end, it is important to mention that if scientific determinism were true and psychology were a science with the potential of accurate prediction, it's quite possible the whole enterprise of ethics would be moot, since with no free will, we could not recommend or freely decide upon alternative courses of decision or action.
What follows is a very brief summary of some of the philosophical positions in the free will-determinism controversy. These doctrines are introduced here as points of reference for insight into the variety of ethical perspectives expressed in this part of the text.