Ethical Realism

March 25, 2010

The Persistence of Moral Disagreement: An Objection to Moral Realism

Many people believe that morality is little more than cultural traditions. One culture can say that revenge is right and another can say it’s wrong. There is no “moral fact” of the matter. This view is known as “cultural relativism” and it’s a form of “moral anti-realism,” which is the view that moral truth consists in our opinions rather than reality itself. One important reason to endorse cultural relativism is Mackie’s Argument from Relativity, and the argument based on the “Persistence of Moral Disagreement” is a variation of the Argument from Relativity. It is claimed that even ideal people would disagree about moral facts, so moral realism is false. Everyone is entitled to their own moral opinions. (more…)

March 23, 2010

Stoic & Buddhist Arguments Against Intrinsic Values

Nietzsche, Stoics, and Buddhists all have similar potential reasons to reject intrinsic values. Nietzsche wants to embrace all of life including pain, the Stoics believe that everything that happens is for the best, and Buddhism requires us to withhold judgment. I have discussed how Nietzsche’s amor fati (life affirmation) could be seen to conflict with pain’s intrinsic disvalue, and now I will discuss how some people could believe Stoicism and Buddhism conflict with pain’s intrinsic disvalue. However, I do not agree that these perspectives are necessarily incompatible with intrinsic values. (more…)

March 22, 2010

Are Intrinsic Value Beliefs Unhealthy? A Nietzschean Argument

Some people could think that intrinsic values should be rejected because it will lead to a negative attitude. If we think that pain is bad, then it will just make our lives worse. I think that some Nietzscheans could come to this conclusion. Nietzsche argued that we should embrace pain and suffering. However, I suspect that he doesn’t reject that “pain isĀ  intrinsically bad” based on the argument I will present. Instead, he finds that pain is (1) only of superficial concern, (2) it brings us benefits, and (3) a healthy person would embrace pain. Of these issues, the third is Nietzsche’s primary concern. He doesn’t tell us “the truth” about reality. Instead, he tells us what he believes is healthy (or unhealthy). Although “embracing pain” might seem incompatible with the view that pain is intrinsically bad, I disagree. We can embrace pain when we experience it and still prefer to avoid pain when possible based on the belief that it’s intrinsically bad. I will discuss each of these issues. (more…)

March 18, 2010

Is Moral Realism Dangerous? (What about Relativism?)

Filed under: ethics,metaethics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 6:42 am
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Moral realism states that there are true moral statements that aren’t just a “matter of taste.” Some people think that moral realism encourages us to be oppressive, intolerant, and vengeful. Anti-realism (e.g. relativism) is supposedly much more “open minded” and encourages us to be tolerant of others. I disagree. I agree that certain forms of moral realism could lead to egregious forms of intolerance, but not all forms of moral realism. Although uneducated moral realist views can lead to problems, these problems can be avoided with careful philosophical consideration. Additionally, anti-realism itself could help people rationalize horrific actions. (more…)

March 12, 2010

What is Emergence?

Filed under: metaphysics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 4:53 am
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Scientists want to find out what causes minds and morality even though these things seem clearly different from the rest of reality. Philosophers have thought of three main answers to explain their existence: One, they are non-natural. Two, they are reducible to physics (atoms and energy). Three, they are emergent phenomena. I will discuss each of these possibilities. (more…)

March 5, 2010

How to Become a Philosopher Free Ebook (Updated 11/26/2013)

I have made a free ebook that discusses the the basics you need to know to think philosophically. Want to improve your thinking? Attain a sort of critical thinking far beyond what most teachers understand? Live a life concentrated on what is most important? If so, philosophy is a good start. (more…)

How to Teach Philosophy

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 9:01 am
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The best way to teach philosophical thinking is just by having conversations with others. This is one reason that being a friend (or a tutor) is one of the best ways to teach philosophy. However, philosophy instructors tend to be the most influential teachers of philosophy. I have had the pleasure to be a philosophy tutor and to teach three philosophy classes. I’m not the best, but here are some ideas for teaching students how to think philosophically. Philosophy instructors can teach philosophical thinking through discussing, reading philosophy, and writing philosophy, but there’s a lot more to think about. Students have a hard time thinking philosophically, reading philosophy, and writing philosophy essays, and we can help them. (more…)

March 3, 2010

How to Get an A in a Philosophy Class

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 9:09 am
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Even if you aren’t in a philosophy class, the advice I give can be relevant to attaining a greater understanding of philosophy in general. Although some philosophy professors are easy, not all are. In other words, you probably can’t get an easy A in philosophy. Nonetheless, I have a great deal of advice that can help raise your grade. Here is my current advice: (more…)

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