Ethical Realism

January 31, 2009

Chapter 3.3 “Supervenience Revisited” by Simon Blackburn

Simply put, moral supervenience is the view that a description of nonmoral facts (such as physical and mental facts) is enough to determine whether an action is good or bad. If this is true, then that fact in itself seems like a problem for morality because we want to think that morality is about something more than just physical and mental facts. Let’s put that aside for a moment and take a look at the one of the important essays about moral supervenience: (more…)

January 16, 2009

Chapter 3.2 “Ethical Consistency” by Bernard Williams

Bernard Williams discusses the problem with having conflicting obligations and a potential contradiction that might be accepted if we accept conflicting obligations. He argues that two things we ought to do can conflict because choosing to do one of them will not absolve us of the fact that we also ought to do the other. A closer look at the logic involved can reveal why no contradiction will be accepted. I will present three objections to his argument. The first questions whether or not obligations can conflict, the second admits that nonmoral “oughts” might conflict while moral ones don’t, and the third questions whether or not we can reject that beliefs conflict but accept that “oughts” can conflict. (more…)

January 14, 2009

Chapter 3.1 “Critique of Ethics and Theology” by A. J. Ayer

The first contemporary essay that I will discuss is “Critique of Ethics and Theology” by A. J. Ayer.

A. J. Ayer provides us with the first noncognitive theory that is called “emotivism” (28-40) (Noncognitivists believe that moral statements have no truth value.) He suggests that everyday ethical judgments are not what we think. We think they are cognitive, but they are actually emotional expressions. To say, “Murder is wrong,” is actually something like saying, “murder!” in an angry voice. It shows an emotional dislike of murder. (more…)

January 12, 2009

Chapter 3: Contemporary Metaethics

The question is: Are there any true ethical statements? If we think so, then we are moral realists. (Also, what are the metaphysical implications? Does “moral reality” require Platonic forms? Are there intrinsic values?) (more…)

January 5, 2009

Chapter 2: Modern Metaethical Philosophy

The “required reading list” for philosophy tends to start with the ancient Greeks, and then it skips to the modern period. Much of the best modern metaethical philosophy (between  the 17th and early 20th centuries) involved moral skepticism. In particular, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, and Frederich Nietzsche. (more…)

January 4, 2009

Chapter 1: Ancient Ethics

In order to understand how exactly moral facts and values could be endorsed, it can be useful to consider how they have been justified throughout western history. Ancient philosophers in particular can be useful because they considered every possibility they could think of and we still revisit those same themes time and time again. (Do we need God to justify values? If so, how does it help do so?) (more…)

January 3, 2009

Book I: Metaethics Part 1 (What is Metaethics?)

Ethics is the philosophy of morality and values. Parts of ethics includes the following: (more…)

January 2, 2009

Introduction: History of Philosophy

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 6:42 am
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Many consider philosophy to be a strange mysterious category. Others consider it to be a waste of time, or playing language games, or arguing about semantics. There is a general disrespect and distaste towards philosophy, but this disrespect is reinforced by the academic community—including actual philosophy professors, who tend to see philosophy as somewhat inadequate or unreliable. (more…)

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