Ethical Realism

February 1, 2011

I Created A FAQ on Intrinsic Value

Filed under: ethics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 6:30 am
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I created a FAQ on Intrinsic Value, which is now a permanent page on this site and a free ebook. Is there a meaning of life? Is there any reason for us to be moral? If intrinsic values exist, then yes. Human life, pleasure, and happiness all seem like they are good–they all seem worthy of promoting because of how important they are. This FAQ explains my beliefs and arguments concerning intrinsic value.

Much of what I say in the FAQ could be taken as a defense of Sam Harris’s The Moral Landscape. There are philosophers who agree with a lot of what Sam Harris has to say.

Go here to see the FAQ.


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…)

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


December 29, 2009

What Does “Meaning of Life” Mean?

Filed under: ethics,metaethics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 9:47 am
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I am interested in the best “purpose for life” rather than answering the question, “Why were we created?” These are related questions for some people, but I want to know if anything really matters.

I am not going to try to answer the question, “Is there a meaning of life?” in this essay. Instead, I want to clarify what the question means. What would it mean if there is a meaning of life? What would it mean if there isn’t? The belief that there is a meaning of life (i.e. that something really does matter) is basically what philosophers call “intrinsic value.” If something really matters, then it has a very important sort of value. In general, we want to increase the number of good things and decrease the number of bad things in the world.

Intrinsic values has been part of philosophical discourse for thousands of years, but it has rarely been described well, and even philosophers seem to misunderstand what “intrinsic values” are supposed to refer to. In order to describe intrinsic values, I will discuss the following:

  1. What the term “intrinsic value” does and does not refer to.
  2. How people misunderstand intrinsic values


December 21, 2009

Does Morality Require God?

Some people believe that God is required or morality will no longer be justified. In particular, God has to exist or “nothing really matters.” Plato and many Christians agree that morality requires a foundation: The Forms or God. Either there is an ideal (Form) of the person that we must try to emulate, or God is the ultimate source of perfection that we must try to emulate. Without the Forms or God, supposedly there would be no intrinsic value. It is true that we want morality to be based on reality. We don’t want morality to be merely delusional or “just a matter of taste.” However, I will argue that the reality described by science seems to be sufficient to explain how intrinsic values can exist. (i.e. We don’t need a transcendent reality in order for something to “really matter.”) Pain seems to be bad and giving people an aspirin to help them avoid pain makes perfect sense, even if God doesn’t exist. (more…)

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