MORAL REALISM 1. Metaethical Topography ? Earlier we looked at the question ?What kind of judgment are moral judgments?? ? Emotivists say: expression of emotion. ? Subjectivists say: descriptions of our feelings. ? (Cultural) Relativists say: descriptions of cultural norms. ? Moral realists and error theorists say: descriptions of mind-independent moral facts. ? Let?s consider some different, but related questions: Are there any moral facts? Emotivists and error theorists say no. Everyone else says yes. Do moral facts have to do with how we feel? Subjectivists say yes. Everyone else says no. Do moral facts have to do with what our culture approves of? Relativists say yes. Everyone else says no. ? Moral realism comprises a bunch of theses: (i) moral judgments are descriptions of facts. (ii) There are such facts. So (iii) some of our judgments are true. And (iv) these facts aren?t facts about what we feel or what our culture approves of. ? Compare: mathematical realists say mathematical judgments are descriptions of mind-independent facts. There are such facts and they aren?t facts about what we feel or what our culture approves of. ? (i) distinguishes realism from emotivism. (ii) and (iii) distinguish it from the error theory and emotivism. (iv) distinguishes it from relativism and subjectivism. ? That?s the basic idea. 2. Complicating the Basic Idea Many people, including Smith, believe INTERNALISM?Necessarily, if you make a moral judgment, you are motivated to do something. ? Example: if you judge that killing is wrong, you are motivated not to kill. ? Example: if you judge that saving a drowning baby is required, you are motivated to save her. ? Note: Internalism claims you are motivated to do something, not that you will do it. Compare: every morning, I have some motivation to stay in bed all morning, but I never do so. ? Question for realists: if moral judgments are descriptions of mind-independent fact, how can they necessarily go with motivation? ? Compare: if you make a judgment of shape, you needn?t be motivated to do something about it. ? Compare: if you make a judgment that someone is a good thief, you needn?t be motivated to do anything. ? So what is special about moral judgments that connect them to motivation? A realist needs to either give up internalism or explain this specialness. Some realists give up Internalism and instead endorse EXTERNALISM?There is no necessary connection between moral judgment and motivation. ? Externalists can think that often there is a connection between moral judgment and motivation. They just believe that it is possible that, say, you judge that stealing is wrong, but have no motivation not to steal. ? So while all moral realists agree that there are mind-independent moral facts and moral judgments describe these facts, they disagree about whether internalism or externalism is true. ? Note: these theses might be true even if realism is false. You could be a relativist internalist, say, or a relativist externalist. 3. Complicating the Basic Idea Some More Let?s assume realism is true and we have sorted out whether internalism or externalism is. Next question: Are moral facts natural facts or non-natural? ? When we distinguished realism from relativism and subjectivism, we answered a question about the nature of moral facts: are they mind-independent or not? ? Now we are asking a different question about their nature: are these mind-independent facts natural or not? ? To answer this question, we need to answer another question, ?What is meant by ?natural??? ? Lots of answers have been offered to this. Let?s assume we have an answer. At least, we know natural facts when we see them. ? What kind of natural fact might the moral facts be? ? Suggestion: facts about requirement are facts about happiness. ? Suggestion: facts about what makes people flourish. ? What kind of non-natural fact might the moral facts be? ? Suggestion: facts about?special non-natural stuff. ? An issue for non-naturalism. The following thesis is true: SUPERVENIENCE?If world A and world B are alike naturally, they are alike morally. ? Example: if world A and B are just alike and I am kicking a baby for fun, then if this is wrong in A, it is wrong in B. ? Worlds can?t differ morally without differing naturally. ? Example: if world A and B are just alike and I am saving a drowning child, then if this is permissible in B, it is permissible in A. ? As Smith notes, a naturalist has no problem explaining why Supervenience is true. Since moral facts are natural facts, if worlds are alike in all natural respects of course they will be alike in some specific natural respect. ? What should a non-naturalist say about why Supervenience is true? Why should it be that natural and non-natural facts go together as Supervenience says? 4. Complicating the Basic Idea Even Further ? Let?s assume realism is true and we have sorted out whether to be internalists or externalists. ? A question to consider in figuring out whether to be naturalists or not is this: do the moral rules come from God? ? If not, no help. Moral facts could be natural or not. ? If so, there is some reason to think that moral facts are not natural facts, they are facts about what God wants. This gives us an answer to which non-natural facts the moral facts are, too. They are the facts about what God wants. UVM Affiliate MORAL REALISM
Want to see the other 2 page(s) in Moral Realism?JOIN TODAY FOR FREE!