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Intuitionism G.E. Moore, W.D. Ross
G.E. Moore?  Who? <ul><li>‘ Common Sense ’  philosopher – often keen to take  ‘ common sense ’  view of philosophical prob...
Moore ’ s Ethical Intuitionism <ul><li>A form of non-consequentialism </li></ul><ul><li>He argues:  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>...
Aside: Closed versus Open questions <ul><li>A closed question must be answered with a simple yes&quot; or &quot;no&quot;, ...
1.  The Good is indefinable <ul><li>Moore ’ s argument that the good is indefinable is known as  ‘ The Open Question Argum...
Moore ’ s reasoning <ul><li>Exemplar 1 – Open or Closed? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Take X to be  ‘ Father Christmas ’  and Y t...
All moral Questions = Open Questions <ul><li>Their answers cannot be deduced from the concepts in the terms alone. </li></...
2. Objective moral truths are intuited <ul><li>Moore ’ s argument for this is something like: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Either...
Analogy: maths and morality <ul><li>Mathematical principles (e.g. 2+2 = 4, y squared tends to infinity) </li></ul><ul><ul>...
Strengths of Moore’s Account <ul><li>If moral truths are non-propositional, then much foolish moral debate can be avoided:...
A problem with self-evidence <ul><li>Allegedly  “ self-evident truths ”  can differ widely. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ One ba...
More issues with self-evidence… <ul><li>Are self-evident truths present from birth? </li></ul><ul><li>Do all adults know t...
W.D. Ross – Prima Facie obligations <ul><li>W.D.Ross (1877-1971) wrote  The Right and the Good  (1930) </li></ul><ul><li>M...
Moral Realism – an aside <ul><li>= view that  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ethical sentences express propositions  and </li></ul>...
Ross ’ s list of obligations <ul><li>(Ross does not claim that this list is all-inclusive) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fidelity:...
Advantages of Ross ’ s Approach <ul><li>Ross ’s approach solves moral dilemmas:  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>in any given situat...
Problems with Ross <ul><li>Why are  ‘prima facie’ moral obligations any better than Moore’s ‘moral intuitions’?  </li></ul...
A conclusion about Ross <ul><li>But (Kant): aren ’t there exceptionless duties?  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For instance,  “Nev...
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Intuitionism

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Moore's Common Sense Intuitionism and Ross's Prima Facie Intuitionism - for A2 Moral Philosophy students

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Transcript of "Intuitionism"

  1. 1. Intuitionism G.E. Moore, W.D. Ross
  2. 2. G.E. Moore? Who? <ul><li>‘ Common Sense ’ philosopher – often keen to take ‘ common sense ’ view of philosophical problems </li></ul><ul><li>Along with Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein, made Cambridge centre for ‘ analytic philosophy ’ </li></ul><ul><li>Died in 1944 </li></ul><ul><li>Wrote at length about morals. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Principia Ethica ’ is his most famous book. </li></ul><ul><li>Argues for intuitionism plus a form of utilitarianism… intuitive moral principles are used to maximise the good… </li></ul>
  3. 3. Moore ’ s Ethical Intuitionism <ul><li>A form of non-consequentialism </li></ul><ul><li>He argues: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The Good ” is indefinable, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>but there are objective moral truths, which are </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>self-evident to a mature mind. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hence known by intuition . </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ This, while not strictly provable, is a presumption of mature common sense – and so should be accepted unless we have proof to the contrary. ’ </li></ul>
  4. 4. Aside: Closed versus Open questions <ul><li>A closed question must be answered with a simple yes&quot; or &quot;no&quot;, or with a specific piece of information. </li></ul><ul><li>An open-ended question cannot usefully be answered with a simple “ yes ” , “ no ” , or a single specific piece of information. </li></ul><ul><li>Which is which? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How much do you weigh? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is Mozart a pop musician or a serious composer? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can Hitler be a vegetarian if he eats meat? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are exam results the only reason for coming to school? </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. 1. The Good is indefinable <ul><li>Moore ’ s argument that the good is indefinable is known as ‘ The Open Question Argument ’ </li></ul><ul><li>O.Q. Arg. = asking &quot;Is it true that X means/is Y?&quot; </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Closed question if the answer is ‘ Yes ’ or ‘ No ’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Shows that X is clearly defined </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Open question if a conceptually competent person can debate the response. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Shows that X is not clearly defined </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Moore ’ s reasoning <ul><li>Exemplar 1 – Open or Closed? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Take X to be ‘ Father Christmas ’ and Y to be ‘ kindly old man ’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it true that X means Y? (Or: is it true that X is Y?) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Exemplar 2 – Open or Closed? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Take X to be ‘ Good ’ and Y to be ‘ socially approved ’ … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it true that X means Y? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Exemplar 3 – Open or Closed? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Take X to be ‘ Good ’ and Y to be any plausible quality that you like </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it true that X means Y? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>So, FC is adequately defined, and ‘ Good ’ is not adequately defined… </li></ul>
  7. 7. All moral Questions = Open Questions <ul><li>Their answers cannot be deduced from the concepts in the terms alone. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For Moore, all moral questions are synthetic, not analytic. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Open Question Argument shows any attempt to identify morality with some set of observable, natural properties will always be an open question. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Contrast e.g. colour identities, which are observable and public…we know what ‘ yellow ’ is, or means </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>So moral facts cannot be reduced to natural properties </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hence Ethical Naturalism (= moral values are found in nature) is therefore false. </li></ul>
  8. 8. 2. Objective moral truths are intuited <ul><li>Moore ’ s argument for this is something like: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Either there are no moral truths (too dreadful to contemplate) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Or moral truths are found in nature (commits Naturalistic Fallacy, so is wrong) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Or there are intuitive, self-evident moral truths </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>‘ self-evident to a mature mind ’ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not a matter of demonstration , proof, justification </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Basic moral truths are ‘ simple ideas ’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>similar to basic colour ideas, such as the idea of ‘ yellow ’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>they can ’ t be further analysed, unlike complex ideas ( ‘ horse ’ = hooves + neigh) </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Analogy: maths and morality <ul><li>Mathematical principles (e.g. 2+2 = 4, y squared tends to infinity) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intuited </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Yet precise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And largely agreed upon by experts of different cultures </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Moral principles (e.g. all men are created equal; Pleasure is intrinsically good; Hatred is wrong) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intuited </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Yet precise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And largely agreed on by experts of different cultures </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Does this analogy hold? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>moral principles are vague, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Moral principles are widely disputed by experts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Moral principles are subject to social conditioning…) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>So: are there self-evident moral truths? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Moore: to doubt common-sense intuitions is crazy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But: this is mud-slinging, not argument… </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Strengths of Moore’s Account <ul><li>If moral truths are non-propositional, then much foolish moral debate can be avoided: there is nothing to articulate. </li></ul><ul><li>The counterintuitive analysis of some moral dilemmas offered by Utilitarianism is avoided. (No ‘George’ or ‘Jim’ problem). </li></ul><ul><li>The doctrinaire sterility of Deontology can be avoided: we do what feels to us to be right, not necessarily only what we can rationally generalise. </li></ul><ul><li>There is widespread agreement about our moral intuitions, so Moore’s theory accords with the facts: it accords with ‘common sense’ </li></ul>
  11. 11. A problem with self-evidence <ul><li>Allegedly “ self-evident truths ” can differ widely. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ One basic principle must be the absolute rule for the SS man: we must be honest, decent, loyal, and comradely to members of our own blood and to nobody else. What happens to a Russian, to a Czech does not interest me in the slightest… ” - Josef Goebbels (Nazi propagandist) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. ” - Thomas Jefferson (First President of US…slave-owner…) </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. More issues with self-evidence… <ul><li>Are self-evident truths present from birth? </li></ul><ul><li>Do all adults know them? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it self-evident what we ought to do in every concrete situation? (What dilemmas can you think of?) </li></ul><ul><li>Should we accept as self-evident any principle that seems initially plausible to us? (What could be wrong with a ‘ gut feel ’ ?) </li></ul><ul><li>Intuitionist moral education inculcates parental (and perhaps Nazi or terrorist) norms – which later will seem to be “ self-evident truths. ” </li></ul><ul><li>… We need some way to rationally criticise inherited moral intuitions. </li></ul>
  13. 13. W.D. Ross – Prima Facie obligations <ul><li>W.D.Ross (1877-1971) wrote The Right and the Good  (1930) </li></ul><ul><li>Moral realist (believes in the existence of moral truth), and so is… </li></ul><ul><li>Not a consequentialist: you should aim for moral truth (some actions are wrong in themselves) not just (for instance) maximising the good… </li></ul><ul><li>For instance, we have a strong, but not exceptionless, prima facie ( ‘on the face of it’) duty to keep our promises. </li></ul><ul><li>Shares some similarities with Kant (so avoids pitfalls of utilitarianism) but also avoids issues over exceptionless promises…(Kant ’s problem) and provides a way of reasoning about moral intuitions (Moore’s problem) </li></ul>
  14. 14. Moral Realism – an aside <ul><li>= view that </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ethical sentences express propositions and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some such propositions are true. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Those propositions are made true by objective features of the world, independent of subjective opinion. </li></ul><ul><li>So “X is good” is true if that thing really is good. </li></ul><ul><li>These objective features are not natural features, though (to say so would be commit the Naturalistic Fallacy) </li></ul><ul><li>Ross: “The moral order...is just as much part of the fundamental nature of the universe…as is the spatial or numerical structure expressed in the axioms of geometry or arithmetic.” </li></ul><ul><li>These objective features or duties are known through (rational) intuition “at first glance” by the mature person </li></ul><ul><li>So, Ross, like Moore, is an intuitionist… </li></ul>
  15. 15. Ross ’ s list of obligations <ul><li>(Ross does not claim that this list is all-inclusive) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fidelity: Keep your promises. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reparation: Make up for harm you do to others. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gratitude: Return good for good. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Justice: Upset distributions of pleasure or happiness that don ’t accord with people’s merit. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-improvement: Grow in virtue and knowledge. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beneficence: Do good to others. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nonmaleficence: Don ’t harm others. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Morality is objective, but morals are conditional </li></ul><ul><li>When a conflict between duties arise one should follow the over-riding duty. </li></ul><ul><li>For instance, maximising the good is only the sixth of seven prima facie obligations… </li></ul>
  16. 16. Advantages of Ross ’ s Approach <ul><li>Ross ’s approach solves moral dilemmas: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>in any given situation, any number of these prima facie obligations may apply. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In the case of ethical dilemmas, they may even contradict one another. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nonetheless, there can never be a true ethical dilemma, Ross would argue, because one of the prima facie obligations in a given situation is always the weightiest, and overrules all the others. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This is thus the absolute obligation, the action that the person ought to perform. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ross accepts a pluralistic view of value: virtue, knowledge, pleasure, life, and freedom (etc…)are good in themselves – and ought to be promoted for their own sake. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Problems with Ross <ul><li>Why are ‘prima facie’ moral obligations any better than Moore’s ‘moral intuitions’? </li></ul><ul><li>Hence, all the problems of Moore ’ s intuitionism might apply…see previous slides… </li></ul><ul><li>‘ prima facie’ or ‘on the face of it’ may not carry the kind of genuine moral weight Ross wants </li></ul><ul><ul><li>modern commentators often prefer the phrase ‘pro tanto’ or ‘as far as it is able, as far as it will go’ instead. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But doesn ’ t this sound like the kind of moral pragmatism that lacks ultimate grounding? </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. A conclusion about Ross <ul><li>But (Kant): aren ’t there exceptionless duties? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For instance, “Never set light to someone for a joke”, “Do not knowingly sentence an innocent person to death.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Would it be possible for another of Ross ’s moral obligations to override these? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Yet exceptionless duties are problematic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cases to trouble consistency might exist </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>cases of inhumanity… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And where great evil is concerned… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Might not Ross ’ s approach offer a middle way between Kant and Utilitarianism? </li></ul><ul><li>Or: might it not sound very like pluralistic rule utilitarianism? </li></ul><ul><li>Intuition could simply provide the basis for the rules which we then systemically apply… </li></ul>
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