Ethical Realism

October 27, 2010

Philosophy Education is Under Threat

Filed under: outreach,philosophy — JW Gray @ 1:00 am

Will philosophy continue to progress in the future or could it die out? If how society values academic philosophy has any indication, then we might be in serious trouble. First, philosophy and logic were once taught in high schools (and perhaps they still are for the few elite rich people who wouldn’t stand for anything else). However, a college education without philosophy is an outrage. Additionally, a university without philosophy is beyond an outrage. And yet – this is the world we live in, and it is becoming increasingly normal. People who care nothing for philosophy get to decide the fate of academic philosophy, and often decide that philosophy is unprofitable. In a world where independent thought is becoming increasingly unimportant to people academic philosophy could someday either be reserved for the very few elites or it could die out entirely “because it’s so darn useless!”1 (more…)

October 24, 2010

Common Sense Assumptions vs. Self Evidence

I would like to know whether or not knowledge is possible, and whether or not it’s possible for a belief to be justified without observation. If observation is the only good reason to have a belief, then it’s not clear that we can have knowledge concerning mathematics, morality, or logic—and it might even be impossible to have knowledge about anything. Perhaps we can have good reasons to believe something based on common sense assumptions or self-evidence rather than observation. I will argue that that some beliefs are justified as “common sense assumptions” that are not self-evident, and they aren’t justified through observation. These assumptions are justified by embodying various intellectual virtues better than alternatives. (more…)

October 19, 2010

Review of Robert Audi’s The Good in the Right

Robert Audi’s The Good in the Right (2004) attempts to offer a comprehensive understanding of morality that incorporates W. D. Ross’s moral intuitionism, Kant’s categorical imperative, and intrinsic values. I will summarize Audi’s major claims and assess their plausibility. The moral realist view that morality is irreducible to non-moral properties is traditionally the “intuitionist” project, and “intuitionism” is traditionally based on the idea that we know moral facts from “intuition”—and “intuition” is traditionally viewed as a realization that something is true based on self-evidence.1 First, Audi argues that Ross’s intuitionism is “intuitive” and can help us determine our “prima facie duties.” He defends a moderate form of intuition and argues that many arguments against self-evidence are based on misunderstandings. Second, he argues that the categorical imperative can be used as a way to ground intuitionism and help us choose between conflicting duties. Third, he argues that an understanding of intrinsic value can be used as a way to further ground our duties. (more…)

October 14, 2010

Does Human Life Have Value?

Filed under: ethics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 6:28 am
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Does human life have intrinsic value? I proposed in my master’s thesis, Two New Kinds of Stoicism, that it does in the sense that our consciousness has value. I will similarly argue here that we have some reason to believe that human consciousness has value, and there can be different qualities of consciousness that can have differing values. I will also present the major objections that have been raised against the view that human life has intrinsic value including a famous objection given by Darek Parfit. (more…)

October 12, 2010

Top 10 Posts on Ethical Realism from 2009

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 12:17 am

I have turned many of my early posts into two free ebooks:

I organized the posts within these ebooks to be read in an order that makes sense. However, it might also be helpful to take a look at some of my most important posts. Here is my top 10 list: (more…)

October 8, 2010

I Propose the Philosophy Campaign

Filed under: outreach,philosophy — JW Gray @ 12:42 am

philosophy campaginTo help increase the visibility of philosophy, I propose the Philosophy Campaign. People need to know that philosophy exists, and we should do something to help people know about it. This is a non-threatening, unobtrusive, and fairly inoffensive way to do it. Just link to the philosophy campaign or tell people about it. The webpage is at

I would like to help reverse the marginalization of philosophy and I would like it to have a greater impact on people’s lives. If possible, I would like a philosophical community that exists beyond the Internet and universities. This could be a starting point.

The Philosophy Campaign has a facebook page at

October 5, 2010

Corruption of Philosophical Language

Filed under: outreach,philosophy — JW Gray @ 6:02 pm
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The vocabulary of philosophy is being corrupted to the point that thinking philosophically is now difficult and considered offensive, which contributes to the marginalization of philosophy and assures us that philosophy will have a negligible impact on society. I will discuss the history of philosophical language, why thinking philosophically is so difficult without the appropriate language, and how exactly the philosophical language is being corrupted. (more…)

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