Ethical Realism

January 28, 2010

Kant’s Argument for Faith in God

Filed under: ethics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 8:25 am
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Many people believe that morality “requires” God. Without God, nothing would really matter. One philosopher who many refer to as supporting this claim is Immanuel Kant. In particular, his work The Groundwork for a Metaphysics of Morals, the Critique of Practical Reason, and Opus Postumum. However, Kant’s argument is greatly misunderstood and it has a lot of “if-and-or-buts” involved. Kant does not believe that we ultimately have to believe in God. “Thou shalt believe in God” would certainly be out of the question. Instead, we merely have some reason to have faith in God (or whatever else could do the job). Why? Because God can make sure we can achieve our moral goals. (more…)

January 22, 2010

Searle’s Philosophy of the Mind

Filed under: metaphysics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 6:47 am
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Some philosophers believe that the mind is a real and separate domain of reality, and this view seems analogous to the belief that morality is a real and separate domain of reality. I will present an example of mental realism and compare it to moral realism. Part of the moral debate is centered around the analogy of moral realism with mental realism. In particular, I will describe John Searle’s realist philosophy of the mind and relate it to moral realism. His philosophy of the mind will be taken from his books Mind and Rationality in Action. To be a mental realist is to accept that minds exist as an irreducible part of the world. I will do the following:

  1. Define mental realism.
  2. Describe Searle’s account of mental causation.
  3. Discuss the analogy between moral and mental realism.


January 21, 2010

Is There A Meaning of Life? Free Ebook (Updated 6-26-10)

I updated many of my essays to create a free ebook that features my argument that there is a meaning of life (intrinsic values exist). The essays can be found on this website. It is still in the rough draft stage, but you might get something out of it. Read on to see the abstract. (more…)

January 15, 2010

What is the Meaning of Life?

“The meaning of life” actually refers to various intrinsic values—various values that “really matter.” To live a meaningful life is to attain and promote intrinsic goods. I have argued that at least one intrinsic value exists, but I believe that there are more. Let’s consider what philosophers believe to have intrinsic value:

  1. Pain
  2. Pleasure
  3. Happiness
  4. Virtue
  5. Good will
  6. Human existence
  7. Consciousness


January 14, 2010

How to Find the Meaning of Life

I have suggested that several things seem to “really matter.” If something “really matters,” such as happiness, then we can live a meaningful life when we promote it (such as make people happy). If something “really matters” then it has “intrinsic value.” I have argued that there is at least one meaning of life (one thing that has intrinsic value)—Pain. However, pain is “bad.” If pain is the only thing that matters, then nothing could make life worth living. I don’t want to suggest that pain is the only thing with intrinsic vale, but we need to know how to find out what has intrinsic value. I have discussed one way to provide evidence that something has intrinsic value—our moral experiences.

We can provide evidence that X has intrinsic value based on the following evidence:

  1. We experience X as good (or bad).
  2. We know X is good (or bad) for everyone.
  3. X’s intrinsic value explains our moral experiences.
  4. Our experience of X’s value can’t be fully accounted for as a “final end,” usefulness, and/or a pre-existing desire.

I will attempt to explain each of these elements of evidence: (more…)

January 7, 2010

Mischaracterizations of “Intrinsic Value”

Filed under: epistemology,ethics,metaethics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 7:53 am
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Intrinsic values state that some things are “good just for existing” and such things are good no matter who has them. Happiness seems like it has intrinsic value because it’s good for anyone to be happy. I have already clarified “intrinsic value” and identified many misunderstandings people have about it in my essay, “What Does ‘Meaning of Life’ Mean?” Some people have some very strange ideas about how intrinsic values should be understood, so I will now clarify them by discussing the following three mischaracterizations about intrinsic value:

  1. Intrinsic values must be unconditional.
  2. Intrinsic values require something spooky.
  3. Intrinsic values require a moral sense.

I will then present an alternative view of intrinsic value that only requires an intuitive, common sense view of the world. (more…)

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