Moral realism   god-independent transcendent truth
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Moral realism god-independent transcendent truth

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Moral realism   god-independent transcendent truth Moral realism god-independent transcendent truth Presentation Transcript

  • Moral Realism Starter: • Moral realism or ___________ is the ___________ view that ethical sentences express __________ and can therefore be true or false. So we can have moral ____________. meta-ethical knowledge cognitivism propositions
  • Moral Realism Starter: so far… Moral realism or cognitivism is the meta- ethical view that ethical sentences express propositions and can therefore be true or false. So we can have moral knowledge.
  • Metaethics God-independent transcendent truths View slide
  • Metaethics: Moral Realism • Moral truths = God-independent transcendent truths. Maths analogy. Platonism. Moral elitism. Acrasia. • Moral truths = natural facts. The open question argument and the naturalistic fallacy. • Moral truths = relational properties which provide reasons for action. Analogy with secondary properties. • Issues: How is knowledge of moral truth possible? How is agreement over moral truth possible? To what extent can such truths motivate/justify action? View slide
  • General strengths • allows moral utterances to be ‘truth-apt’ (checkable for truth or falsity) • …and for some of them to be true. • …so the domain of moral values can be known. • …so gives an account of how these values arise.
  • Discussion Task: establish, criticise • The analogy between morality and mathematics. • Moral Platonism. • Moral elitism. • Acrasia or Akrasia
  • Maths and Morality • we know some transcendent truths – those of mathematics. – public/shared, objective/independent of human perception, enduring • we know these truths through mathematical intuition/ rational insight – pure thought, in other words – faculty can be trained/developed   moral values are transcendent/outside space and time.   we know these truths through moral intuition/moral insight – a.k.a. ‘conscience’ – faculty can be trained/developed • BUT (analogy fails) – Public/shared? Objective/independent of human perception? Enduring?
  • Moral Platonism/Platonic Realism • Discussed in Plato’s ‘Parmenides’: ‘ – ‘You see a number of great objects, and when you look at them there seems to you to be one and the same idea (or nature) in them all; hence you conceive of greatness as one.’ • Forms are objects of pure thought that are transcendent. • There are Forms or Universals that relate to moral values – Forms of Justice, Courage, Kindness, Goodness – These forms have meaning insofar as they partake of the ‘Form of the Good’ • And empirical moral truths are correct only insofar as they partake of the ‘Forms’. – Our values are valuable because what they have in common is ‘Value’ itself. • But Mackie: “queer” – forms are metaphysically far out entities or properties without a plausible epistemic story of how we can obtain knowledge of them. – their existence raises more problems than it solves…
  • Elitism
  • Moral Elitism • = special temperament/training needed for access to moral truths • Many moral philosophers are moral elitists: – Plato’s ‘Philosopher-King’ (knows Forms) – Nietzsche’s ‘Ubermensch’ (has WTP) – Moore’s conception of self-evidence/ Ross’s ‘moral intuitions’… • Is moral ‘elitism’ obviously wrong? – If there can be moral knowledge, then it is plausible that some people have it while other people lack it. – We celebrate e.g. experts in physics. Why not experts in morals? • Perhaps historical religious figures are examples, or the Philosopher-King • But! e.g. Kant – moral agency = all being able to discover moral truths.
  • Acrasia or Akrasia I • ‘Weakness of the will’ = How can one know the good and yet do the bad? • To be virtuous, Socrates argues in the Protagoras, is simply to (really) know the truth about what is good and what is not. • However, weakness of will does seem to occur. • So, as no one knowingly does what (they believe) is wrong, weakness of will = ignorance of the right thing to do: – Hence Socrates argues that if a person says doing x is right but does y, they don’t really (deep down) believe that the right thing to do is x. – For example, they actually believe that the pleasure of doing y, rather than x, outweighs what is good about x.
  • Other accounts of acrasia • Aristotle argued that virtue is knowledge held in the right way – so that it has the right effect on motivation. – So someone who is weak-willed has moral knowledge, but they do not fully grasp the significance of their knowledge. • Donald Davidson (in How is weakness of the will possible?) argues that weakness of will involves a failure of the person to judge that x is (really) best. • Non-cognitivists such as Hume can argue that judgment, or reason, simply does not have the final say on our decisions – our emotions do. So we be motivated to do things that we do not believe in any sense are best. • Modern faculty psychology is at ease with the idea of the self as having multiple agents – the self is ‘an ecology of souls.
  • Homework for Thursday • Read ahead in handout about: – Moral truths = natural properties – Moral truths = relational properties which provide reasons for action. The analogy with secondary properties.