Ethical Realism

June 24, 2010

Knowledge, Justification, and Theoretical Virtues

Filed under: epistemology,philosophy — JW Gray @ 3:56 am
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We don’t always think about what really makes our beliefs justified or rational but we tend to be pretty good at identifying which beliefs are justified or rational anyway. We can often take a uncontroversial example of a justified belief then assess why another belief is or isn’t justified by how similar (or analogous) it is to the uncontroversial one. For example, the belief in the law of gravity is a good example of a highly justified belief. It is rational to hold such a belief (in part) because of how well it helps us predict the future. However, the belief that energy can be created or destroyed seems to be unjustified insofar as it has never helped us predict the future. (more…)

June 22, 2010

Can We Reason About Morality?

Filed under: epistemology,ethics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 5:14 am
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One common objection against just about any philosophical argument is considered by philosophers to be amateurish – Philosophy can’t give us the truth. The implication is supposed to be, “Philosophy can’t give us the truth, so we might as well give up on arguing about such things.” This is especially a popular objection to moral philosophy in general, but it is little more than a declaration of one’s ignorance and distrust towards philosophy. The main problem with this argument is merely that philosophical arguments are usually not intended to actually give us the truth once and for all, and even natural science fails to do so. The point of philosophy tends to be to tell us what it is most rational to believe, or what is probably true given our current information. (more…)

June 17, 2010

Morality, God, Relativism, and Nihilism

Although most people have no idea what philosophers have to say about morality that doesn’t deter them from discussing philosophical ramifications of morality. In particular many people want to argue for one of the following:

  1. Objective morality requires God.
  2. Morality is relative.
  3. Nothing really matters.


June 15, 2010

14 Arguments That Intrinsic Values Exist

If anything has intrinsic value, then something really matters.1 When we make decisions we often hope that our action will be as beneficial as possible and we hope our actions aren’t harmful. We often think some of our actions can produce truly good consequences. Making people happy seems to be really good and causing people suffering seems to be really bad. I suggest that we often assume happiness is intrinsically good and suffering is intrinsically bad. I have already given one argument that intrinsic values exist, but I now want to give more. I will present 14 arguments that help us understand why intrinsic values can make sense to a rational person. These are merely simple arguments that could be worthy of consideration and expanded in the future. I have discussed some of these arguments is more detail in the past. (more…)

June 9, 2010

Does Morality Require God? Free Ebook

Filed under: ethics,metaethics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 10:01 pm
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I have organized some of my essays (blog entries) to make a free ebook that tries to answer the question, Does morality require God? Whether or not morality requires God is a hotly debated topic and many people think it does. However, this debate exists almost exclusively among non-philosophers and actual philosophers who want to know where morality comes from almost never think “God” is the answer they are looking for. I discuss why God is not required for morality. (more…)

June 8, 2010

An Argument Against God, a Teapot, and Garvey’s Objection Part 2

Filed under: epistemology,metaphysics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 2:33 am
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Read part 1 first.

About a week ago I discussed Bertrand Russell’s teapot argument that concludes that we should disbelieve in God. In particular, I posted some objections to an essay by Brian Garvey, “Absence of Evidence, Evidence of Absence, and the Atheist’s Teapot,” which attempted to show that Russell’s argument was not a serious one. Garvey was nice enough to defend his essay and we had a short debate, which can be found here.1 I will now attempt to explain Garvey’s response to my objections and make it clear why I am not satisfied by his response. I don’t know if the teapot argument succeeds as a sufficient reason to disbelieve in God, but I find the argument to be a threat to theism, and in need of further research. I will now explain my current position and attempt to refute Garvey’s responses. (more…)

June 4, 2010

Is Homosexuality Immoral?

Is homosexuality immoral, evil, sinful, or morally wrong? If we have no reason to think that an action is wrong (a sin), then we have a pretty good reason to think that the action isn’t so wrong after all. Taking a shower could be wrong, but we don’t have any strong reason to think it could be wrong, so we have good reason to think that taking a shower is okay (morally permissible). People who don’t wear their seat belts could potentially cause significant harm to themselves through neglect, but it doesn’t seem to be particularly “immoral” overall. If we falsely identify an action as wrong, then we could end up causing guilt, oppression, and animosity towards people who don’t deserve it. I will argue that we have no reason to think that homosexuality is wrong. In particular, I will argue that the major philosophical ethical theories would not find it wrong and arguments that people present against homosexuality are not persuasive.


June 2, 2010

My Defense of the Argument From Evil, an Argument Against God

Filed under: metaphysics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 7:52 am
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The argument from evil (or “problem of evil”) was originally developed by Epirucus, and it is now often taken as an argument against the existence of God(s). If successful, the argument shows that a group of beliefs about God are incompatible (an all powerful and all good God doesn’t exist because then evil couldn’t exist). Although it is possible for a theist (believer in God) to avoid the argument from evil just by adjusting one’s beliefs about God, some theists don’t think that the argument from evil is a problem in the first place. In particular, some argue that God might have a good reason to allow evil to exist. I will attempt to show that it seems either impossible or unlikely that God allows evil to exist for a good reason. (more…)

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