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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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Does the existence of psychopaths pose a problem for moral realists who argue we have a moral intuition?

Psychopathy is not universally agreed upon in psychology, but among some there is a consensus that psychopathy is highly heritable, and that psychopaths are lacking in conscience and empathy. ...
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Is there an advantage of a theistic account in terms of being able to define goodness?

I have been watching some debates about the existence of god, such as Peter Singer vs. Dinesh D'Souza, or Christopher Hitchens vs. John Lennox. On the religious side, one argument comes up ...
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What makes moral realism so popular a standpoint?

According to wikipedia page on moral realism: A survey from 2009 involving 3,226 respondents found that 56% of philosophers accept or lean towards moral realism (28%: anti-realism; 16%: other). ...
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2answers
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Kant's need of God [closed]

My main issue is not the understanding of the text in question, it really is a question about his conception in general: Kant defends the idea of God by hypothising a "supreme (original) good", ...
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Who applies the pessimistic induction to moral “truths”?

I happened upon the term pessimistic induction (the history of science is a "graveyard" of once empirically successful theories whose central terms have been found not to refer) on this page and ...
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Should we not talk about ethics according to Wittgenstein?

Wittgenstein says in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: 6.4 All propositions are of equal value. 6.41 The sense of the world must lie outside the world. In the world everything is as it is ...
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Does practical moral skepticism end up as relativism?

Harman (2000a) argues that a moral judgment that a person ought to do X (an “inner judgment”) implies that the person has motivating reasons to do X, and that a person is likely to have such ...
6
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4answers
718 views

How fatal is Rands error in tackling Humes is-ought distinction?

Rand calls her philosophy Objectivism as she declares this moral philosophy is wholly & entirely rational and that the world has an objective character: It is out there. Hume, on the other hand ...
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2answers
764 views

Moral nihilism?

I have two main worries, which are drawn from Nagel and Mackay for their expression, though I think I agree with neither of these philosophers. First I will sketch my idea about right and wrong, ...
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1answer
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For Kant, are spider moms that eat their kids immoral?

When we talk about morality, do we mean to say morality for human beings? It is morally bad for human mothers to eat their newborns. Black widow spiders females eat some of their newborns after ...
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1answer
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What does *substantive* in the term 'substantive normative claim' mean?

In Sharon Street's paper, "Nothing "Really" Matters, but That's Not What Matters", she uses the phrase substantive normative-claim: I take it that this is because Parfit is thinking of the claim ...
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Democratic ethics - sources for system of ethics determined by democratic principles

Ethics can be seen as a purely social construct, and so being determined by the powerful in the society (John Stuart Mill takes such a view in On Liberty). This view can also be further advanced to ...
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Does the existence of moral truth imply its objectivity?

I'm studying ethics and I have Shafer-Landau's fundamentals of ethics. I'm familiar with moral realism and moral skepticism. Moral skepticism is divided into ethical relativism and moral nihilism. ...
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Has/can moral relativism be refuted and what are its implications for a true and useful ethical calculus?

It seems that the existence of moral relativism undermines the entire enterprise of ethics, as it devolves into a bunch of, albeit very smart, people abstractly formulating what is ultimately just a ...
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2answers
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What are some examples of categorical imperatives/universalizable maxims relevant to modern ethics?

I know this question has been widely asked, and that the answer may not be as straightforward as the question, which is partly why I'm asking. It's been a long time since I sat in a philosophy class, ...
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4answers
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How can moral realism be defended against the fact that morals and values change over history?

Moral realism or moral objectivism is a the view that moral values and statements are facts that are independent of the person who is uttering them. For example the statement "Killing is bad" is ...
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580 views

Is it possible to logically derive moral statements from factual statements?

Yes, this is essentially the is-ought problem posed as a question. The reason I am asking however, is that I have so far found absolutely no satisfactory arguments for this being the case anywhere ...
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2answers
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Could Ethical subjectivism be classified as Moral realism if we include God?

For the sake of my question, God = "an omnipotent being". I am not referring to any specific gods that come from any past or present religions. Ethical subjectivism generally stands in opposition to ...
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4answers
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Are there laws which govern minds?

After much discussion of my question, How could 'objective morality' be known/investigated?, I've come to think that two earlier questions must first be asked: Are there laws which govern how any ...
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Can moral objectivism be reconciled with the fact that some unethical behaviors are “human nature”?

A constant argument I've been hearing recently is that people should be forgiven for engaging in unethical behavior if it is "natural" for them to do so. Examples: It's natural for people to be ...
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2answers
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Corporations can spend, but can they speak?

The US Supreme Court has ruled that the act of spending money (buying political ads) is a form of speech, or, a speech act (political speech). The implication being, of course, that political spending,...
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Is it possible to measure the “rightness” of moral thought?

Fifty years ago it was widely believed in Europe that homosexuality was an awful perversion that should be cured or, failing that, punished. A hundred years ago it was widely believed in Europe that ...
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Are Nietzsche's “higher men” men of principle

Are Nietzsche's "higher men" men of principle - in their value judgments? Or do their principles extend only to meta-ethical claims, such as the will to power, the existence of higher and lower ...
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Is there any author that argues for radical moral pluralism?

Let me first clarify what I mean with "radical" here. While many modern authors, if not all, accept moral pluralism of sorts, all that I know of express either the hope, if not the conviction, that ...
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1answer
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Moral 'ought' and the Principle of Generic Consistency?

Late philosopher Alan Gewirth introduced the Principle of Generic Consistency, or the PGC, which says that moral agents ought to respect the generic rights of freedom and well-being because they are ...
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Nietzsche’s despising of the herd

A question that I haven’t been able to answer: Nietzsche despised the herd and mentioned in many essays that we must reevaluate our ethics and the set of moralities Christianity has provided us (not ...
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3answers
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What's the difference between a 'duty' and 'obligation'?

Background I enrolled in a class, The Philosophy of Human Rights. The authors of the course readings never use 'duty' and 'obligation' interchangeably, so I suspect that the terms may have distinct ...
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3answers
549 views

Why does rationality + free will necessitate an objective morality for Kant?

So, I'm trying to tackle Kantian Ethics, and I would like to think that I know the most of it but I have some confusions So, what I understand of Kants ethical system is that a) We are rational ...
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5answers
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Is there an empirical system of ethics?

Most (universal) ethical systems which I have encountered come up with some kind of a priori rule (e.g. "maximize happiness and minimize pain", or the categorical imperative) and then apply that rule ...
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4answers
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What good is it to ground morality?

What good is it to ground morality? It's a somewhat bad question. Philosophers like proving things. But, specifically, does it make me more moral if I can ground my moral values? What generated the ...
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1answer
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A taxonomy of Meta-Ethics (Reference Request)

On the accounts of many Doctors of Philosophy specialising in Meta-Ethics, the philosophical landscape is notoriously hard to taxonomise. What are the best comprehensive guides to Meta-Ethics. I have ...
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685 views

Can one believe in Divine Command Theory without the Bible?

If one believes that there is a God and that He created the universe, it would seemingly follow logically that whatever God commands is moral (and whatever He commands not to do is immoral). For ...
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1answer
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What is the difference between emotivism and quasi-realism

I'm not sure what the difference between Emotivism and Quasi-realism are. According to Wikipedia, Emotivism is '...a meta-ethical view that claims that ethical sentences do not express propositions ...
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1answer
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Is cognitivism compatible with moral anti-realism?

According to my professor, Sharon Street is both a cognitivist and a moral anti-realist. Are the two compatible? How can a statement be truth-apt if there is nothing in the fabric of the world that ...
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1answer
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Do any moral realists say that subjective judgments also have moral truth?

Do any moral realists say that subjective judgments also have moral truth, such that unreal facts can oblige or permit us to act in a way that we really usually shouldn't?
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2answers
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Moral realism: Can the Bible be a reliable moral guide for an atheist?

Assume both atheism and moral realism are true. Can a religious text, such as the Bible, still be a reliable moral guide? Or do the religious aspects invalidate the entire text? To put this another ...
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1answer
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Are prescriptions truth-apt?

Considering the presupposition that there are objective answers to prescriptions, are prescriptions truth-apt? My definition of a prescription is that it is simply an conditional. Example You ...
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1answer
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Does moral anti-realism preclude anyone from being a better judge of value?

It seems to me that moral anti-realism, by which I mean the view that no judgments of intrinsic value are true, implies that nothing is intrinsically better or worse. Does this preclude the idea ...
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How could 'objective morality' be known/investigated?

We humans have not always believed in objective reality, or at least we have not always believed that reality is rational without any discernible bounds. For, the instant that reality ceases being ...
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Instrumentalist value theory. Is it morally nihilistic? Is it science?

I could not give a better name for this theory, so I call it "Instrumentalist value theory". According to this theory nothing is intrinsically valuable. Nothing and no one can be treated as ends, but ...
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4answers
543 views

Is there a cogent argument for whether there are objective moral facts?

I just finished an introductory ethics course in college and we talked about different perspectives in metaethics. We spent most time on realist vs anti-realist arguements and for my purposes here ...
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A Ground or Foundation of Morality

I am currently reading the very fascinating paper Unspeakable Ethics, Unnatural Law by Arthur Allen Leff. It seems that the thrust of his paper is that there is no "naturalistic" way of grounding or ...
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Is it possible to define (legally-useful) inalienable natural rights without a deity?

Here's my understanding of natural rights: Natural rights are those rights inherent to a being. Those rights are inalienable if they may not be overridden by social contract. Without some sort of ...
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1answer
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What is the current status of Emotivism?

Emotivism is a meta-ethical view that claims that ethical sentences do not express propositions but emotional attitudes. Hence, it is colloquially known as the hurrah/boo theory. (WP) I have been ...
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1answer
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Is Camus 'Outsider' an argument for, or a critique of existentialism?

I've read Camus 'Outsider' twice. And have seen it acted out in the theatre. I do not think I understand it, though I can admire Camus prose style. Its often taken as canonical in existentialist ...
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586 views

What is the root reason for Nietzsche calling Kant a “fatal spider”?

Antichrist p11. Why couldn't Nietzsche take the rough with the smooth, in Kant's moral philosophy? Does the categorical imperative have a perspective from which it's reasonable, ether for Nietzsche'...
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4answers
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Is it possible to be ethical subjectivist and realist at the same time?

I assert that people say something is right/wrong only basing on their desires. They do not want X to be done, either under particular circumstances or any. Desires, indeed, are real. Therefore, moral ...
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Moral Objectivism or Moral Relativism: which is true? [closed]

I haven't read or heard a single convincing argument for Moral Objectivism. One is that of convenience (so that moral statements can be logically evaluated leading to conflict resolution), which I ...
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1answer
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According to Kant, Is it ethical to prevent someone acting unethically against ones self?

My intuition seems to say yes, however I'm not quite sure how to go about reasoning about this. I'm particularly interested in evaluating this using the first and second categorical imperative. I ...
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1answer
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Moral value and secondary qualities

I'm reading Mackie, Blackburn and McDowell at the moment on secondary qualities and values, and having great difficulty understanding what their precise arguments are. Mackie seems to be saying that ...