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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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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486 views

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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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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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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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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63 views

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 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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25 views

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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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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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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What influence did Kant have on artistic modernism?

What influence did Kant have on artistic modernism? I'm not even sure if his concept of taste is anti-modernist, and have read nothing explicitly on this question.
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Is Bernard William's argument for equality a teleological argument?

Bernard Williams wrote in his essay “The Idea of Equality”: Leaving aside preventive medicine, the proper ground of distribution of medical care is ill health: this is a necessary truth. Now in ...
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What is the idea that a moral system is ethical if it can function when everyone in a community adheres to it?

What is the ethical paradigm from the title called? To restate the concept in the negative, a moral system would be considered unethical if, when universally adhered to by everyone in a community, ...
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How does particularism fare with descriptive relativisim and its relation to moral skepticism?

As I understand it, descriptive relativism, acknowledging that there are very many disagreements about morality, ones which are often practically intractable, feeds into moral skepticism. As I'd ...
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Making Moral Judgement: Thick Concepts versus Normative Concepts

In G. E. Anscombe's article "Modern Moral Philosophy", she thinks that it is meaningless to make moral judgements such as something is right, wrong, permissible and impermissible. Secondly, she thinks ...
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Is there a hybrid between non-cognitivism and cognitivism?

Non-Cognitivism is the view that ethical sentences cannot be true or false (that they do not form propositions) and Cognitivism that it can. I hold to the notion that ethical sentences such as "...
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Is Kant's postulate of the existence of God a metaethical assumption?

Also, I would like to get some bibliographical reference about Kantian metaethics.
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Can the idea of “imperfect” categorical imperatives be used without 'duty'?

Can the idea of "imperfect" categorical imperatives be used without 'duty'? So that e.g. I can say that something has an intrinsic value, and not hypothetically, but it is always valuable, even-though ...
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Could we take the fully rational and fully informed idealized agent that Peter Railton talks about as God, to give a theistic metaethics?

Recently, I finished Alexander Miller's book "An Introduction to Contemporary Metaethics." After reading about Peter Railton's reductionism, I wondered if it would be possible to take the agent which ...
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Sub-Ethics: Subset or Strictly Inferior

Do you know if philosophers have argued that certain ethical theories are contained in other ones? That is, that the set of imperatives in one for arbitrary agent is a subset of the imperatives on ...
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148 views

Is our general level of abstraction in ethics hypocritical?

We have come to discover that a high level of serotonin (the leadership chemical, and what falls during depression) improves one's ability to think abstractly. Some of our greatest gains in thinking ...
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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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What anthologies might offer introductions to moral philosophy?

After reading the essay "What I believe" by Bertrand Russell, I became very interested in learning more about moral philosophy. What I am now looking for is a collection of writings by different ...
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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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Choosing a topic/question for a bachelors thesis

Next semester I’ll be writing my bachelor thesis within the subject of Practical philosophy. This will be my first big original essay within philosophy and I know picking a good subject is key. I’ve ...
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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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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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Can a moral code develop from one person's integrity?

Just for a moment picture, not all the evil and bad in the world, but the good. If you think about it and 'see' in your mind's eye all of the normal, everyday families in any given neighborhood who ...
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What is moral particularism if there are no morally perfect persons?

Moral Particularism, at its most trenchant, is the claim that there are no defensible moral principles, that moral thought does not consist in the application of moral principles to cases, and ...
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Can we measure “braverity” objectively?

By saying "bravery/courage", we implicitly mean a hard task that we wouldn't do it in daily life, and we have to sacrifice something to get it - we are scared. It is, after all, just a cost-benefit ...
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Is Nietzsche 'power' neither value neutral nor practical?

Main question Is Nietzsche 'power' neither value neutral nor practical? Subsidiaries that I considered in asking it If so, how can it be demarcated from the object of philosophy, generally enough ...
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96 views

Why did Nietzsche think that only the happiness of higher types mattered?

Why did Nietzsche think that only the happiness of higher types mattered? Was it due to some repulsion from normal people and their behaviours? Or was he just fascinated by greatness? I would assume ...
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Is Nietzsche an anti-realist about moral disagreement?

This question got me thinking: What is the difference between the Superman and the Ultimateman? As I understand it, moral anti-realism is the thesis that there are no moral facts outside the ...
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Can moral behaviour be based on a lie?

If knowledge implies justified belief, as is traditionally supposed, then skepticism about justified moral belief implies skepticism about moral knowledge. However, even if knowledge does require ...
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Moral sense theory / Meaning of life

Moral sense theory is as follows in this tip top wiki article. Presumably ? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_sense_theory I was just wondering if anyone says anything similar about the particular ...
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What terminology is neutral in meta-ethics?

Meta-ethics concerns whether at least some ethical judgments are what one might call facts. In particular, a cognitivist who subscribes to realism, rather than the error theory or something similar, ...