Re: There are no objective moral truths.
agrote wrote: joefromchicago wrote:
That's going to make for a very short dissertation.
I wish people would stop saying that.
If people are saying that, then maybe you should start listening to them.
Entire books have been written on this topic before; for example, The Myth of Morality by Richard Joyce.
My dissertation will be between 7,500 and 10,000 words (if the topic is approved by the department).
No doubt books have been written around the argument that there is no such thing as morality, but I doubt that they've been written from your perspective.
And what sort of dissertation is 7,500 words? Sounds more like a senior thesis than any kind of post-graduate dissertation.
The average non-philosopher frequently uses sentences such as "killing is wrong." These sentences are of the same kind as "this desk is brown." They are both propositions which assert facts, are they not?
They may both assert facts, but they don't assert the same kind
of facts. "The desk is brown" is based upon sense perception: one asserts that the desk is brown because one sees the desk and ascertains its color. On the other hand, when one says "killing is wrong" there is no sense perception involved. In other words, one cannot hear, see, smell, touch, or taste the "wrongness" of killing. If one asserts that "killing is wrong" is a fact, it is a kind of fact very different from the kind asserted in the statement "the desk is brown."
Now, from what I can gather here (and correct me if I am mistaken), you seem to think that the two statements do
assert the same kind of fact, i.e. that there are "moral facts" that are ascertainable in the same way that the color of a desk is ascertainable. I think that's impossible, and that you're setting up a strawman argument if you think that other people make take that position. But I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.
I don't know enough about philosophy of ethics yet to know whether or not moral philosophers are going around looking for "moral facts." But it is clear to me that common sense morality does imply that there are moral facts.
If by "moral facts" you mean a statement based on a deductive argument, like "killing is wrong, then I think you're right -- there are such "moral facts." But if that's the case, then you're going to have to make a much more convincing argument than simply saying "there are no such facts," since, as I pointed out above, such an argument would also suggest that there are no deductive facts at all. And I'm not sure if you're willing to sacrifice the truth of "2 plus 2 equals 4" so that you can eliminate the truth of "killing is wrong."
Lots of people believe in moral facts, or they at least use language which implies that there are moral facts. So my argument that there are no moral facts is not a case of strawman bashing.
People believe a lot of silly things. Why people believe those things, however, is a matter for psychologists, not philosophers.
agrote wrote: Quote:
What? Are you seriously espousing something like Platonic forms?
I don't know very much about Platonic forms. Please explain what you are saying.
You plan on writing a "dissertation" on a philosophic topic and you don't know what Platonic forms are? Excuse my mild astonishment here, but what exactly are they teaching you at your school?
Allow me to fill this gap in your education. In short, Plato believed that attributes such as "beauty" or "justice" existed in a pure form, so that, when we talk about something being "beautiful" or "just," the thing is "beautiful" or "just" insofar as it partakes in the form of "beauty" or "justice." Thus, something is "beautiful" to the extent that it nearly approximates the ideal form of "beauty." How we know how close the beautiful thing approximates the ideal form is open to some question (Plato wasn't entirely clear on this point), but one possibility is that we are either born with the sense of ideal forms or that we have some sense perception of them. If, then, you think that "moral facts" are perceptible in the same way that the color of a desk is perceptible, then one is entitled to ask whether you espousing something like Platonic forms.
For more information, see this link
agrote wrote: Quote:
...being "ok" implies some sort of moral or ethical standard.
If a behaviour is neither right nor wrong, what is it? Can't I use the word "okay"? I don't think that "it is okay to do x" is the same as "it is right to do x".
If a behavior is neither right nor wrong, then it is morally indifferent. A morally indifferent act would be just as ok to do as not to do, so saying that it is ok to do something that is morally indifferent is telling us nothing that we did not already know. You can still say it, but I don't understand why you'd bother.