Ethical Realism

July 3, 2014

The Compatibilist Conception of Free Will

Filed under: metaphysics — JW Gray @ 11:36 pm
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moral responsibilityI suspect that the main reason there is a debate about determinism and free will in the first place is because people have different conceptions of free will and disagree about the nature of moral responsibility, which will also be discussed. I will briefly discuss the concepts of free will, determinism, moral responsibility, and the compatibilist conception of free will. (more…)

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December 23, 2013

The View That Objective Morality Requires God

Filed under: ethics,metaethics,metaphysics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 8:48 am
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Theists often say that atheism is incompatible with objective morality. This point is not that atheists are bad people or can’t understand morality. The point is that they think there has to be a basis (found in reality) for morality to be objective, and they think only God can be that basis. Many atheists don’t think there’s objective morality, and they might agree that atheism is incompatible with objective morality. However, I will argue that atheism and objective morality are compatible.

I will provide some important terminology, introduce Plato’s “Euthyphro,” explain the possible connection between theism and objective morality, describe other types of objective morality, argue that atheism and objective morality are compatible, and briefly illustrate a view of objective morality. (more…)

November 1, 2013

Thoughts on Ontological Naturalism, the Natural, & the Supernatural

Ontological naturalism is the view that only natural stuff exists (stuff that has some special connection to natural science). The term ‘naturalism’ refers to the methods of natural science in addition to the natural stuff that scientists are thought to study. A lot of philosophers say that they are ontological naturalists (of at least some type), but what exactly is such a view really about? Such a view seems to require that we can identify what’s natural and what’s not. And since philosophers don’t agree about what counts as natural, there are actually multiple types of ontological naturalism. I’m not convinced that such a distinction means much of anything, but I can sympathize with certain types of ontological naturalism more than others. (more…)

January 29, 2013

Is Atheism or Theism The Default Position?

Filed under: metaphysics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 8:52 am
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Many atheists say that atheism is the default position, so theists have the burden of proof. I will consider the best argument I can come up with that theism is the default position and the best argument I can come up with that argument that atheism is the default position. I believe that the argument that atheism is the default position seems a little more plausible, but I am not yet convinced that either of the arguments are rationally compelling. Even so, the arguments I will present are merely food for thought and could be considered to be a starting point when considering whether atheism or theism is the default position (or perhaps neither). (more…)

May 21, 2012

What Are Facts? Do Facts Exist?

Filed under: epistemology,metaphysics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 8:21 pm
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Do facts exist? At least one person has claimed that facts do not exist and that thinking they exist would violate Occam’s razor (i.e. multiply entities beyond necessity). However, there is much to be said as to why we have reason to believe that facts exist, such as the reasons to endorse various kinds of realism. I will discuss what facts are, whether they are supposed to refer to something that exists, whether any facts exist, and an objection against their existence. I will argue that all objections to the existence of facts are self-defeating and we have more reason to believe that some facts exist than that no facts exist as a result. (more…)

July 19, 2011

The Is/Ought Gap: How Do We Get “Ought” from “Is?”

The is/ought gap illustrates the difficulty in understanding what it means to say that we ought to do something, and how we can know what we ought to do. What is the is/ought gap and what’s it all about? I will describe the is/ought gap, discuss its implications in meta-ethics, and discuss various solutions to the is/ought gap. (more…)

May 21, 2011

Five Meta-Ethical Theories

Meta-ethical theories are meant to explain moral psychology, moral reality, and moral reason. Moral psychology considers the actual moral judgments, moral interests, and moral motivation people experience. Moral reality refers to the nature behind true moral statements—what makes our statements true. Moral reason describes our moral knowledge and how we can decide which moral beliefs are best or “most likely true.” Moral realists believe that there are moral facts (moral elements of reality) and they are often optimistic about how well we can understand such facts, but moral anti-realists reject moral realism and don’t think we need moral facts to understand morality. I will briefly discuss five meta-ethical theories, two of which are forms of moral realism and three that are forms of moral anti-realism: Moral naturalism and moral intuitionism are both forms of moral realism; noncognitivism, relativism, and error theory are forms of moral anti-realism. There are many forms of each of these theories, but I will concentrate on one version of each theory. (more…)

May 20, 2011

The Debate Over Moral Realism

The question over what morality refers to has lead to two groups of philosophers. One group describes itself as being “moral realists” and other other as “moral anti-realists.” Moral realists think that there’s more to morality than anti-realists. In particular, the moral realists believes that there’s at least one moral fact. I will describe these two groups then briefly describe why someone might accept or reject moral realism. (more…)

February 18, 2011

Intrinsic Values & Beliefs About Reality

Filed under: ethics,metaphysics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 3:13 am
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The belief in intrinsic values (and moral realism in general) is incompatible with certain beliefs about reality. Something has intrinsic value if it is good just for existing (perhaps happiness or human life). Moral realism is the view that there are moral facts beyond our personal interests and beliefs. If something has real value just for existing, then there are facts about what actions are better than others because some actions can promote intrinsic value better than others. For example, killing people destroys something with intrinsic value assuming human life has intrinsic value. (more…)

January 29, 2011

Luke Nix’s Concerns About Atheistic Moral Absolutism

Luke Nix thinks that a satisfying sort of morality requires God. Without God, morality would be a matter of opinion, mere consensus, or cultural customs. Such an unsatisfying sort of morality is “relativism” or a form of “moral anti-realism.” He thinks a satisfying morality should be in some sense “absolute” (of a moral realist variety).1 We both mainly agree what a satisfying morality should look like. It shouldn’t be relativistic or a form of anti-realism. However, I don’t agree that God is required for moral realism. I have already responded to his argument in “An Argument Against Atheistic Moral Realism.” However, my response doesn’t answer all his concerns. I had a discussion with him on his blog and I found out many of his concerns. I wasn’t able to post my reply on his website (perhaps because of my use of html), so I will post it here. (more…)

November 19, 2010

Review of Nathan M. Nobis’s Truth in Ethics and Epistemology

This review is available as a free ebook (PDF file) here. (Right click/save as to download).

Terance Cuneo argued that moral realism is true (moral facts exist) based on the fact that (a) epistemic facts exist1; and (b) if moral facts don’t exist, then epistemic facts don’t exist. Around the same time Nathan Nobis wrote his doctoral thesis, Truth in Ethics and Epistemology: A Defense of Normative Realism (2004), that contained a similar argument (and it is available for free on his website). Nobis argues the following: (more…)

November 4, 2010

What are Moral Facts?

If you merely look at the world of tables, chairs, and atoms, you won’t find moral facts anywhere. Some people have suggested that moral facts are utterly mysterious—that we have no idea what could make something right or wrong. Some people decide that moral facts can’t exist because they are too “spooky.” Other people decide that moral facts could only be true with an independently existing moral realm of Platonic forms or with the existence of God. I don’t think moral facts are utterly mysterious or offensively spooky because we do have some ideas concerning what could make something good, bad, right, or wrong without being overly spooky—and I don’t think moral facts require anything like Platonic forms or God. That’s not to say that there is no mystery surrounding moral facts. I suggest that moral facts are primarily concerned with intrinsic values, but we are also interested in alternate possibilities. (more…)

August 17, 2010

A Review of Moral Reality by Paul Bloomfield

Paul Bloomfield presented an argument for moral realism in his book, Moral Reality (2001). He argues that it is possible (or very likely) that we don’t know everything about morality, and therefore moral reality exists beyond our moral judgments and attitudes.1 This argument was discussed in the introduction, but then it appears to be ignored throughout the rest of the book, which turns its attention to four riddles (24): (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 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…)

May 26, 2010

An Argument Against God, a Teapot, and Garvey’s Objection (Part 1)

We want to know, Does God probably exist? Is the belief in god rational? Many people disbelieve in God because there isn’t enough evidence. Some people argue that this is no different than the fact that we think that there probably is no teapot in outer space revolving around the sun.1 We have to admit that a teapot might be revolving around the sun because we haven’t done an extensive search, but we shouldn’t just abstain from judgment. It is most rational to reject the belief of such a teapot and to think such a teapot probably doesn’t exist. In the same way it might be most rational to reject the belief in God and to think that God probably doesn’t exist.2 (more…)

May 14, 2010

Emergence: A New Worldview of Reality

Filed under: metaphysics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 11:10 pm
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I believe in timeless elements of reality and irreducible elements of reality. Minds, morality, and mathematics seem to be beyond the reality as described in physics, but the view that only material reality exists is also very attractive. The solution that some philosophers have come up with is to combine the two. The only reality is physical and everything is connected to the reality as described by physics, but some elements of reality is more than the sum of their parts. (more…)

May 12, 2010

A Theological Worldview of Reality

I have discussed many philosophical worldviews, but I left out my understanding of a religious philosophical worldview involving God’s existence. I want to consider my understanding of a theological worldview here (e.g. the Christian worldview). The theological worldview has philosophical implications mainly insofar as theologians have borrowed arguments from Parmenides and Plato. Theological religious philosophy has been rejected by most  respectable contemporary philosophers, but there is some motivation behind the belief in God. In particular, people attracted to religious philosophy and the belief in God want to know more about the universe than other philosophers, even if it requires a great deal of speculation. Atheists often see such hypotheses as requiring “wild speculation.” (more…)

May 8, 2010

Worldviews of Reality

Filed under: metaphysics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 12:03 am
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We want to know how minds, the soul, and mathematics could be part of the world. Such parts of reality seem strange and could have “objectionable features.” Philosophers have tried to understand these elements since the beginning of philosophy itself and seemed to understand it as the problem of “being and becoming” or the unchanging and change. Some of the most extreme views of reality were proposed by Heraclitus, Parmenides, and Spinoza, which are all attempts to make sense of the world including the strange parts. Our current worldview is primarily based on Heraclitus and Democritus, who thought that reality was a constant flux of matter. (more…)

April 12, 2010

A Nietzschean Argument From Disagreement: An Objection to Moral Realism

In “Moral Skepticism and Moral Disagreement: Developing an Argument from Nietzsche1 Brian Leiter argues that Nietzsche gives us a good reason to reject moral realism: Philosophers have been lead to inevitable disagreement about the foundations of ethics and we have no reason to think any of them are right. They are probably all false because “right” and “wrong” probably don’t exist. I will present Leiter’s argument as I understand it and provide my objections to it. (more…)

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