Questions tagged [metaethics]

Metaethics is the attempt to understand the metaphysical, epistemological, semantic, and psychological, presuppositions and commitments of moral thought, talk, and practice.

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What's wrong with aretaic consequentialism?

Another approach [to how to classify Buddhist ethics] is aretaic consequentialism, an indirect form of consequentialism in which the primary objects of evaluation are character traits, not actions or ...
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Is the set of all good things incommensurable with the sets we use the natural/related numbers for?

Suppose that there is a set of all good things, and that it is well-founded. Then it would not be an element of itself, i.e. would not be a good thing. Maybe it would be hypergood, but maybe it would ...
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In divine command theory, is there anything malum in se? Or in other words, is there a distinction between malum in se and malum prohibitum?

In Divine Command Theory, is there any distinction between malum in se and malum prohibitum, when it comes to divine commandments (as opposed to human defined laws)? For example, I would see failure ...
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What is the name of the philosophy that believes one should do whatever they want?

The philosophy in question believes: You only live once, and you have predetermined desires from your genetics and environment. If these desires are not fulfilled as short-term or long-term goals you ...
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Does Kant read the is/ought question in a way different from the "normal" reading?

First, to quote Hume: In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remarked, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning, and establishes the ...
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Are there any philosophers who argue for a non-utilitarian moral realism from phenomenology?

What I have in mind is a non-utilitarian alternative to Sharon Hewitt Rawlette (a summary from a podcast) which would propose something like: Morality is objective because moral facts are equally as ...
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Why is the argument of companions in guilt in moral realism no cosidered meaningless?

The argument of Companions in guilt is meta-ethics says: Even if there is no rational reason to think to think that something is ethical, that is irrelevant because there is no rational reason to ...
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Why does the infamous is/ought problem fail to defeat the claim that objective morality exists?

In a comment to the question Astronomical Waste @armand put Utilitarianism is a moral theory trying to codify "what people should do" type of questions. As such it can't really be refuted (...
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Taxonomy of the Ethic Theories

I have read some about ethics, and I would like the most compressible possible taxonomy of ethics. Is to note that by my previous research I have identified the following dichotomies: Dentological/...
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Is there such a thing as a moral statement?

Logical positivists, notably A.J. Ayer, have stated that there is no such thing as a moral statement. In his example, saying the words "you acted wrongly in stealing that money" are ...
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If moral nihilism doesn't imply right or wrong, why is the common response filled with vitriol along the lines of "you must think murder is okay"? [closed]

If nothing is right or wrong, then murder would be neither right or wrong. If you're a moral nihilist, "morality" ultimately just becomes a set of wants and a matter of preference for the ...
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Nietzsche's model of sociality in the ubermensch

As I understand it, Fredrich Nietzsche-- at least in the latest works he had scribed before his death-- was neither an advocate of antisocial nor prosocial passions. How he professes this position is ...
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Does Moore's Open Question Argument beg the question?

So as I understand, Moore's Open Question Argument can be formulated like this: -- I. If x is the same thing as y, then the question "I know it's x, but is it y?" would be meaningless II. ...
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If it is possibly good that the world actually exists, is it actually good that the world possibly exists?

Note: the question involves some version/vector of the Barcan formula, albeit with the existential quantifier swapped out for an actuality operator (possibly on terms under propositions rather than ...
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Does any philosophy designate thoughts (independent of expression or action) as a subject of morality?

Most moral philosophers consider only physical actions, speech and thoughts that may have an impact on others as within the scope of morality, while many religion believers who suppose the omniscience ...
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Could fictionalist intuitionism (in ethics) be grounded in a theory of "special understanding"?

One drawback (besides their strident prose) of G. E. Moore and Michael Huemer's intuitionism is that they don't seem to have much in the way of a sustained/sustainable account of how this extra "...
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Construct describing an inherent sense of right/wrong?

In Christian and especially Protestant philosophy there seems to be an implied notion that humans possess some ability to "sense" moral right and wrong. When one performs or contemplates an ...
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Ethical evaluation of outcomes vs actions

Consider two ethical questions: (1) Is action A more or less ethical than action B? (2) Is outcome A more or less ethical than outcome B? Question 1 is the focus of normative ethics. Question 2 seems ...
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Is Utilitarianism a theory of normative ethics or meta-ethics?

I would have thought Utilitarianism should be viewed as a theory of meta-ethics. This is because, in my view, Utilitarianism addresses the issue of "what is good?" by providing a method (i.e....
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Neo-liberalism, language and freedom?

Background Byung Chulhan in his book psychopolitics defines freedom in two ways: a. He defines it as an interlude which the subject feels when passing between lifestyles or ideologies. This is a ...
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Gratitude without knowing for who?

Is it possible to have gratitude without a source? A simple example would be can an atheist have gratitude towards no one for the circumstances he finds himself in? I think I'm presupposing a human ...
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Is the search for knowledge morally compelling for the time being?

UPDATED VERSION: Argument: Definition: Moral facts exist objectively and are independent of what any human thinks. So they are not just based on agreement or convention. Premise A: The existence of ...
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Are love and sexual attraction completely unrelated?

The philosophy of sexuality is a more recent development. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy says: Among the many topics explored by the philosophy of sexuality are procreation, contraception, ...
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Could ethics be grounded in a law of nature?

Assuming that morality is objective, is it possible that the reason there are moral truths (i.e it is wrong to harm children) is because of an undiscovered law of nature (like gravity)?
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Erotetic quantifiers?

I can't find it, but I have a distinct memory of there being an SEP article that says something like as if the ordinals were there before the sets in relation to a question about whether ordinals (or ...
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Mathematical style and ethical fictionalism

The SEP article on mathematical style got me thinking: what is the relationship between mathematical style, mathematical fictionalism, and ethical style/fictionalism? There seem to be at least three ...
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Assuming meta-ethical subjective relativism, what is the bearer of value?

Is it the particular condition of concrete events, objects, or actions that are valuable for their own sake? Or is it particular mental states of observers that are the bearers, and creators, of value?...
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Is the Categorical Imperative Simply Bad Math? :)

The title is clickbait, but the question is not. First, The Categorical Imperative: Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law. ...
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Objective vs Absolute Morality: Is one possible without the other?

Can something be objectively immoral and not simultaneously absolutely immoral? Definitions of the difference between objective and absolute morality tend to commit a comparison error. For instance: &...
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Reference request: books about meta-ethics theory

I want to construct an ethics system, my ethics. When I studied logic was very fruitful to understand the theory of the theory of logic (meta-theory). Now I want to learn about ethics because I want ...
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How is metaethical contextualism different from metaethical relativism according to MacFarlane?

According to Mark Schroeder: Relativist metaethical theories are usefully contrasted with contextualist theories for most purposes, but are committed to normative ethical consequences in a very ...
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Can I be both a utilitarian and a non-cognitivist?

I'm trying to clarify my moral position, so I've been doing a lot of research into ethics (both meta-ethics and normative). On one hand, I definitely align with utilitarianism (especially rule ...
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Can morally good actions be considered beautiful/aesthetic?

Ive been trying to find resources on whether morality can be considered aesthetic. I found philosophers who suggest ideas can be aesthetic, so I was wondering whether something as abstract could be ...
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Is absolute moral relativism impossible?

Is my rationale correct here?: If relativism is relative, relativism is a contradiction in itself, because you’re forced to believe what other people think is morally correct, is correct for them, and ...
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How does one reconcile Nietzsche's view of kindness?

On the one hand, N espouses that people shall almost ignore the needs of other people to achieve one's own greatness. But on the other hand he describes kindness as "Kindness and love, the most ...
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Why does Nietzsche affirm excellence so much?

A recurring theme in Nietzsche's writings seems to be that humans should strive for excellence “the highest power and splendor possible to the type man”. Im just wondering what it is about excellence ...
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Do any philosophers discuss the ethics of the possible negative repercussions from doing what is morally good?

Aside from utilitarianism, most ethical systems seem to advocate actions that might hurt somebody or at least inconvenience them. For example, standing up to a bully might hurt them. Making a stand ...
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Historically, were most philosophers moral realists before the rise of physicalism?

Moral facts seem weird because they don't seem to mesh too well with a purely physicalist ontology (although there is such a thing as ethical naturalism). It somehow seems odd that alongside the facts ...
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How would Kant/Mill justify causing somebody discomfort when doing the righteous thing?

I was wondering how Kant, or even Mill might respond to the issue that when doing the righteous thing, say standing up for yourself against a bully, or somebody who wants to impede on your rights, you ...
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For Mill, is all speech ethical so long as it doesnt conflict with the harm principle?

I understand that Mill was a big advocate of freedom of speech and expression. Im just wondering whether he just saw that as state policy or if he thought that on an individual level all speech is ...
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According to game theory, are people trustworthy? [closed]

According to philosophical presumptions of game theory, are people trustworthy if there are incentives (profit and less loss) involved in lying? And if this question isn't entirely accurate as a ...
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Is claiming that killing non-human animals is morally neutral a defensible position?

When I search "amoral" in general I seem to only find results about one taking a completely amoral position, nihilistic like, of all ethics/morality. If I search "amoral" with &...
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Do any mainstream philosophers talk about a duty to being to true to yourself?

I'm just wondering who has taken Kant's ideas and still explicates on duties to oneself including the duty of being true to who you are, to be authentic. I know existentialism also considers the ...
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Do Kant or Aristotle ever comment on the line between self-interest/preservation and helping others?

Im wondering whether either of them ever talked about limits to helping others and when we should choose ourselves. Ive tried doing some research but unfortunately to not avail.
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Does the so-called "Copenhagen interpretation of ethics" have a formal name in moral philosophy?

I was recently introduced to the term Copenhagen interpretation of ethics in an interesting blog post that defined it thusly: The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics says that when you observe or ...
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Where does ethics place the line between self interest and altruism?

Assuming I were to decide between getting Benefit A myself or somebody else getting A. All things being equal (need, desire, etc), is it correct to say most ethical theories (other than egoism) would ...
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Understanding Aristotle's views on pleasure/fun

I feel like Aristotle gives us conflicting messages on whether we can do things for fun/pleasure. Would doing things done for pleasure such as going on holiday or playing video games be considered ...
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What separates a "normal" person from a morally excellent person? [closed]

Is it simply doing all the duties that Deontology (Kant) requires of you while doing them out of a sense of duty, or having all the virtues suggested by Aristotle while enjoying doing them or even ...
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Does Hume's Is-Ought Thesis imply moral nihilism?

Assuming you are an atheist, cognitivist, and a moral objectivist, does Hume's Is-Ought Thesis imply you must be a moral nihilist (or perhaps more weakly, at least a moral skepticist)? Put another ...
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Is prescriptive moral relativism about universalism or absolutism?

Is prescriptive moral relativism about universalism or absolutism? I just can't get this straight in my head. It seems that I can be an absolutist about an ethics that only applies to me. In which ...
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