lunedì 1 agosto 2016

Moral Objectivism Mike Huemer

Notebook per
Moral Objectivism
Mike Huemer
Citation (APA): Huemer, M. (2016). Moral Objectivism [Kindle Android version]. Retrieved from

Parte introduttiva
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 2
Moral Objectivism By Mike Huemer
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 5
1. What is the issue
Nota - Posizione 5
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 13
1.1. "Objectivism" and "relativism"
Nota - Posizione 13
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 13
"Objectivism" denotes the thesis that morality is objective. Subjectivism holds that morality is subjective. Relativism holds that morality is relative.
Nota - Posizione 14
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 17
1.2. What is 'morality'
Nota - Posizione 17
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 22
For example, "People must not use violence against one another" is a claim about morality in the objective
Nota - Posizione 23
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 23
On the other hand, "In Xanadu, the use of violence is strongly condemned" is not a value judgement; it can be verified or refuted purely by anthropological observation. It is a statement about morality in the subjective sense.
Nota - Posizione 25
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 27
If there were no people, would there still be chemistry?
Nota - Posizione 27
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 41
1.3. "Values are subjective" = "All values are subjective"
Nota - Posizione 41
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 42
It may be asked, what shall we say if it turns out that some values are objective and some are not? The answer I give, by stipulation, is that in that case objectivism is true and subjectivism is false;
Nota - Posizione 43
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 48
1.4. Three ways of being non-' objective'
Nota - Posizione 48
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 48
Suppose I offer the opinion, "Colors are objective."
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 50
It means that a color - redness, say - is a property of the objects
Nota - Posizione 50
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 51
Hence, to say that morality is objective is to say that whether an action is right depends on the nature of that action;
Nota - Posizione 52
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 54
1. If everything is non-x; e.g., nothing has value or nothing is red.
Nota - Posizione 55
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 56
2. If some things are x, but whether a thing is x depends not just on that thing's intrinsic nature but on facts about the subject, i.e., the person who says or observes that the thing is x, as well.
Nota - Posizione 58
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 63
3. If it is neither true nor false that something is x.
Nota - Posizione 63
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 74
1.5. Several relativist theories
Nota - Posizione 74
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 75
1. Moral judgements are simply universally in error;
Nota - Posizione 75
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 76
2. Moral 'judgements' are not genuine assertions. They don't actually claim anything about the world. Instead, they are mere expressions of emotion,
Nota - Posizione 77
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 78
3. "x is good" means "I like x."
Nota - Posizione 78
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 78
"x is good" means "x is ordained by my society."
Nota - Posizione 79
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 79
5. What people do when they make a moral judgement is to project their subjective mental state out into the world. They confuse their emotions with some object in the world and mistakenly take the feeling in them to be some property of the object.
Nota - Posizione 80
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 83
6. Morals (in the objective sense) are established by convention;
Nota - Posizione 83
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 86
1.6. What the issue is not
Nota - Posizione 86
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 88
I am not interested here in whether morality is 'absolute' in any of the other senses than "objective".
Nota - Posizione 89
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 92
I am not arguing that we can know moral truths with absolute precision or certainty.
Nota - Posizione 93
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 93
I am not considering the issue of whether one should be tolerant of people with differing practices or differing views.
Nota - Posizione 94
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 101
2. The consequences of relativism
Nota - Posizione 101
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 102
Here I will argue that, unsurprisingly, moral relativism undermines morality and leads to nihilism
Nota - Posizione 102
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 106
Since rational judgement presupposes some ground apart from the judgement on which for it to be based, the denial of objectivism implies the intrinsic impossibility of rational moral judgement, since said denial means that moral values cannot have any independent existence apart from the mind.
Nota - Posizione 107
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 122
What this shows is that if one knows moral relativism to be true, then one cannot rationally believe any moral judgement.
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 127
Subjectivist philosophers, including Mackie, standardly draw a distinction between first- and second-order moral views and hope by this to show that they can maintain their 'second-order' view without giving up any of their first-order moral views. A 'first-order' moral view is a claim about what is good or bad, right or wrong; while a second-order moral view is about the nature of first-order moral views (e.g., what it is for something to be good or bad or right or wrong).
Nota - Posizione 130
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 130
The argument, presumably, is that since first- and second-order views are about different things, a second-order view cannot be in conflict with a first-order one, so we won't have to reject any first-order moral views as a result of accepting moral relativism.
Nota - Posizione 132
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 137
it makes no sense to say, "Well, I agree that unicorns are not real, but I still think this is a unicorn."
Nota - Posizione 138
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 139
3. Arguments for subjectivism
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 140
3.1. Cultural variance of moral codes
Nota - Posizione 140
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 144
I think the level of disagreement is exaggerated. I think it would be widely agreed that courage, honesty, and kindness are virtues;
Nota - Posizione 145
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 146
Disagreements in questions of history or biology or cosmology do not show that there are no facts about these subjects.
Nota - Posizione 147
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 151
Why is it that people argue interminably about religion but not about mathematics? It is not because numbers are objective and the existence of God and similar issues are subjective. It is, mainly, because ordinary people do not care about the properties of numbers. But they do care immensely about God, life after death, and the like.
Nota - Posizione 153
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 159
there are plenty of perfectly legitimate fields of study that are not exact sciences.
Nota - Posizione 159
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 159
3.2. Simplicity
Nota - Posizione 160
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 160
Second, it has been argued from time to time that moral relativism presents a simpler picture of the universe than objectivism. Objectivism postulates these entities, objective moral values, that we could explain the world just as easily if not more easily without. Therefore, the burden is on the objectivist to prove the existence of these things.
Nota - Posizione 162
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 162
I think this argument is insincere; that is, nobody ever became a relativist because of this.
Nota - Posizione 163
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 164
mathematical relativism: Objectivism postulates these entities, objective numbers and numerical relationships, that we could explain the world just as easily if not more easily without. Therefore, the burden is on the objectivist to prove the existence of these things.
Nota - Posizione 166
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 171
If anything, we should say that the burden of proof is on the moral relativist, for advancing a claim contrary to common sense.
Nota - Posizione 172
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 172
3.3. Where does moral knowledge come from?
Nota - Posizione 173
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 176
It is an old platitude in moral philosophy that you cannot derive an 'ought' from an 'is', so it is supposed that what I have just enunciated is impossible. Well, in one sense, you cannot derive an ought from an is - in the sense that the prescription will not follow analytically, or just in virtue of the definitions of terms. But in another sense, you can derive an ought from an is - i.e., it will follow necessarily and a priori.
Nota - Posizione 179
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 180
examination of just about any mathematical proposition would reveal this mode of cognition - you cannot derive most theorems solely on the basis of definitions. You must also have some intuitive judgements, usually made explicit in the form of axioms.
Nota - Posizione 181
Nota - Posizione 182
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 185
moral intuition is just the general faculty of reason applied to a particular subject matter, viz., values,
Nota - Posizione 185
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 188
For instance, it may be argued that communism is a bad system of government on the basis that it has caused tens of millions of deaths, that it impoverishes the country in which it is adopted, and that it greatly restricts people's freedom. I think that is a good argument. It certainly is not some kind of simple logical fallacy, as the concept of 'the naturalistic fallacy' would presumably imply, since I am deriving a moral judgement from other, non-moral judgements.
Nota - Posizione 191
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 195
3.4. The political argument
Nota - Posizione 195
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 195
Perhaps the main motivation for relativism among contemporary intellectuals is the appeal to the virtue of tolerance.
Nota - Posizione 196
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 200
The first obvious reply to this political argument is that it is a non sequitur - that is, even if true, all it shows is that it would be advantageous to somehow convince people to believe relativism; but it does not show that relativism is actually true.
Nota - Posizione 202
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 202
Second, since this kind of argument would only move people who believe in the value of toleration anyway, it would seem at least as reasonable to simply postulate tolerance as an objective value,
Nota - Posizione 203
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 205
it is objectivism that leads to toleration and subjectivism that leads to intolerance - for my view encourages an objective and rational attitude towards public policy and other moral questions (Cf. above, section 3.3), whereas subjectivism naturally tends towards an unreasoned and arbitrary approach
Nota - Posizione 207
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 208
emotional value system might lead, as it usually has in the past, to fanaticism, xenophobia, etc.
Nota - Posizione 209
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 212
examples: John Locke's political theories, which have probably led more than any others to democracy and respect for universal human rights, are a good example of the kind of conclusions that a serious attempt to identify objective moral values usually leads to.
Nota - Posizione 213
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 214
Orthodox Marxism holds that moral values are not objective but are mere fictions invented by the ruling class to further its class interests (much like religion). The German Nazis held that all values are determined by one's race, that the right was just what accorded with the will of the people, and that moral values thus had no objectivity.
Nota - Posizione 217
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 219
4. Several versions of relativism refuted
Nota - Posizione 219
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 223
4.1. Value judgements as universally false
Nota - Posizione 223
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 223
It implies, among other things, that it is not the case that people generally ought to eat when hungry; that Hitler was not a bad person; that happiness is not good; and so on.
Nota - Posizione 224
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 228
This discussion makes me feel like G.E. Moore, who refuted skepticism about the existence of external objects by making a certain gesture and observing, "Here is one hand," and, making another gesture, "and here is another."
Nota - Posizione 229
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 233
4.2. Moral judgements as expressions of sentiment
Nota - Posizione 234
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 234
Sometimes Hume talks as if he thought moral statements were expressions not of judgements but of emotions. On this view, "x is good" is comparable to "Congratulations," "Hurray," "Ouch," and other non-assertive utterances.
Nota - Posizione 235
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 236
appeal to introspection. The making of a normative judgement is experienced as just that - making a judgement: i.e., as a matter of good phenomenology, when one considers a moral issue, it seems clear, one is engaged in that mental process known as judgement;
Nota - Posizione 238
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 248
Second, moral judgements can properly be called "true" or "false". If somebody says something that is not an assertion - such as "Ouch!", then you cannot 'disagree' - that makes no sense.
Nota - Posizione 249
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 251
Third, it's pretty obvious that, linguistically, prescriptions take the form of statements, and we all recognize them as such. They use the indicative mood, containing a subject and predicate, &c. And I don't see any special reason for thinking that there is something deceptive about our language (and presumably virtually all others).
Nota - Posizione 253
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 253
Fourth, normative judgements can stand in logical relations to other propositions. For instance, the statement, "I should return this book to the library" straightforwardly entails the admittedly objective statements I can return this book
Nota - Posizione 255
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 261
4.3. "x is good" as synonymous with "I like x"
Nota - Posizione 261
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 262
It makes sense to say, "I like it, but is it really good?" but it does not make sense to say "I like it, but do I like it?" nor "It's good, but is it really good?"
Nota - Posizione 263
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 269
4.4. "x is good" as a synonym for "x is ordained by my society"
Nota - Posizione 270
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 270
namely, to call something good is to express a value judgement, but to say something is ordained by society is to offer a descriptive judgement of anthropology which could be confirmed or refuted purely by observation. This is another case of the naturalistic fallacy.
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 272
It is possible to doubt whether what society ordains is good but it is unintelligible to doubt whether what is good is good or whether society ordains what it ordains.
Nota - Posizione 273
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 276
4.5. Moral judgements as projection
Nota - Posizione 276
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 276
confusing one's emotions with physical objects
Nota - Posizione 277
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 280
this kind of theory could be proposed for any quality. That is, for any property that we seem to sense in objects in the world, it could always be asserted that we are projecting our subjective mental state out into the world, and it would be difficult or impossible to refute the assertion.
Nota - Posizione 282
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 286
There isn't anything like a single feeling I have when I contemplate each of the things I consider to be good, as the theory would appear to predict. I think Newton's work on the calculus is extremely good, but I don't feel emotional about it at all. It appears to me that I make evaluations on intellectual grounds.
Nota - Posizione 288
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 292
if this theory is true, then why doesn't everybody wind up with a moral code that says he may do whatever he feels like and other people may only do things that he likes - or rather, at least, one that picks out the same things as being good as happen to be liked by that individual?
Nota - Posizione 294
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 296
it is usual for a person to have a positive sentiment towards something because he believes it to be right or to have a negative sentiment because he thinks it is wrong. That is the way we normally seem to experience the connection between evaluations and emotions. That is why a psychologist would attempt to eliminate a patient's guilt by means convincing him that he is not a bad person, and not the other way around. The theory in question reverses the causal direction.
Nota - Posizione 299
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 299
Finally, the acceptance of this theory would presumably cause us to lose the inclination to moralize, for once we see the truth of it, we would see that all moral statements are intrinsically confused and, therefore, false or unintelligible. But I have said above (section 4.1) that the denial of all moral judgements is absurd and that I do not see how any philosophical premises that could be used to justify the theory in question could be more evident than certain value judgements (indeed, more probable than the disjunction of all possible value judgements).
Nota - Posizione 303
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 306
4.6. Morals as a matter of convention
Nota - Posizione 306
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 309
The existence of money and what counts as currency are literally established by convention. Imagine a situation in which the United States government changes our currency. It begins to print money with new kinds of pictures on it to replace the old money. A law is passed saying that the old money is no longer legal tender, and the citizens go along with it. We all start using the new money and nobody uses the old ex-money anymore. Now in that situation, would these green pieces of paper I have in my wallet with pictures of dead presidents still have monetary value? The answer is no. They would literally cease to be money in virtue of the conventions we established. If right and wrong were established by convention, then we should be able to say something similar about them. We should be able to imagine a situation in which our society establishes different conventions and, in virtue of that fact, things that are presently right cease to be right and things that are presently wrong cease to be wrong. What would that be like? Suppose Americans were to decide that the communists were right after all and start electing socialists to government offices.
Nota - Posizione 317
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 330
4.7. The argument generalized
Nota - Posizione 330
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 337
Evidenzia (giallo) - Posizione 350
5. Summary
Nota - Posizione 350