ParaclitosLogos

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Different error theorists offer different grounds for thinking there are no moral facts of the sort our moral thought presupposes. J. L. Mackie, 1977, for instance, maintains that there could be such facts only if there were “objectively prescriptive” features of the world that worked effectively to motivate all who recognized those features. Others maintain that there would have to be categorical reasons that apply to people independent of their interests and desires, still others that there would have to be a God who takes an interest in human activities. In each case, the argument starts by identifying something that would putatively have to be the case for there to be moral facts ...

  (2005-12-22). The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory (Oxford Handbooks). Oxford University Press, USA. 




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caco3

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Different error theorists offer different grounds for thinking there are no moral facts of the sort our moral thought presupposes. J. L. Mackie, 1977, for instance, maintains that there could be such facts only if there were “objectively prescriptive” features of the world that worked effectively to motivate all who recognized those features. Others maintain that there would have to be categorical reasons that apply to people independent of their interests and desires, still others that there would have to be a God who takes an interest in human activities. In each case, the argument starts by identifying something that would putatively have to be the case for there to be moral facts ...

  (2005-12-22). The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory (Oxford Handbooks). Oxford University Press, USA. 

I think Mackie's strong internalism, where recognition of moral feature would overridingly motivate, is rejected nearly universally even among error theorists as it doesn't account for weakness of will.  Most moral realists tend to be motivational judgment externalists though.  MJE would account for amoralists or sociopaths who can make moral judgments but not be motivated to act in accord with them.

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aleph naught

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Different error theorists offer different grounds for thinking there are no moral facts of the sort our moral thought presupposes. J. L. Mackie, 1977, for instance, maintains that there could be such facts only if there were “objectively prescriptive” features of the world that worked effectively to motivate all who recognized those features. Others maintain that there would have to be categorical reasons that apply to people independent of their interests and desires, still others that there would have to be a God who takes an interest in human activities. In each case, the argument starts by identifying something that would putatively have to be the case for there to be moral facts ...

  (2005-12-22). The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory (Oxford Handbooks). Oxford University Press, USA. 

I think Mackie's strong internalism, where recognition of moral feature would overridingly motivate, is rejected nearly universally even among error theorists as it doesn't account for weakness of will.  Most moral realists tend to be motivational judgment externalists though.  MJE would account for amoralists or sociopaths who can make moral judgments but not be motivated to act in accord with them.

I don't applaud you enough :p

I personally just reject that normative facts must have any moticational qualities at all.

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ParaclitosLogos

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Finally, among realists there is serious disagreement even about what sort of thing a moral fact is. Thus some realists hold that moral facts are just a kind of natural fact, while others hold they are nonnatural or even supernatural. Some realists hold that moral facts are discoverable by empirical inquiry, while others see rational intuition or divine inspiration as essential to moral knowledge. Moreover, some realists believe that while there genuinely are moral facts, those facts are themselves dependent upon, and a reflection of, human nature or social practice. They thus combine a commitment to moral facts with a relativist or a contractarian or constructivist account of those facts.  Such views reject the idea that the moral facts exist independent of humans and their various capacities or practices. Yet, to the extent they are advanced as capturing accurately what the moral facts actually are, they are versions of moral realism. Needless to say, what one person might see as nicely accounting for the nature of moral facts, another might see as missing something essential or even as completely changing the subject. Thus, what one person might embrace as a successful defense of moral realism, another might see as, at best, a view one would embrace once one had given up on the thought that there are genuine moral facts.

  (2005-12-22). The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory (Oxford Handbooks) . Oxford University Press, USA.

 

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Jubilee

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Different error theorists offer different grounds for thinking there are no moral facts of the sort our moral thought presupposes. J. L. Mackie, 1977, for instance, maintains that there could be such facts only if there were “objectively prescriptive” features of the world that worked effectively to motivate all who recognized those features. Others maintain that there would have to be categorical reasons that apply to people independent of their interests and desires, still others that there would have to be a God who takes an interest in human activities. In each case, the argument starts by identifying something that would putatively have to be the case for there to be moral facts ...

  (2005-12-22). The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory (Oxford Handbooks). Oxford University Press, USA. 

Can someone tell me what the heck a "moral fact" is? What does that even mean? "Badness" and "Goodness" can't be facts because they are contentless in of themselves. For the Mooreans ("Goodness and Badness or whatever are primitives!")  and the deflationists, anyone want to clarify the distinction between "unanalayzable" and "non-existent"? You can't neatly seperate facts from values either. Or, in logical terms, subjects from predicates. You just have to take the sum of them as a "fact" that we can make sense of it by pointing at it or showing it.

All values--moral, aesthetic, scientific, or logical--are not "facts". They do not picture the world, but are what gives the world sense. We strictly speaking cannot *talk* about facts or values as if they existed independently. Values cannot be said, only shown.

That's the error of moral skeptics. You can't say moral propositions and expect people to get it and act by it--anymore than simply reading an instruction manual for the guitar will allow you to play the guitar. For example, I may intellectually know (I.e., report verbally if you ask me) that eating that cookie violates my diet, but I reach for it anyway. Or perhaps a counselor is right that an amputee's life will get better, but it is more than assenting to the right verbal statements to actually get it.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

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ParaclitosLogos

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Different error theorists offer different grounds for thinking there are no moral facts of the sort our moral thought presupposes. J. L. Mackie, 1977, for instance, maintains that there could be such facts only if there were “objectively prescriptive” features of the world that worked effectively to motivate all who recognized those features. Others maintain that there would have to be categorical reasons that apply to people independent of their interests and desires, still others that there would have to be a God who takes an interest in human activities. In each case, the argument starts by identifying something that would putatively have to be the case for there to be moral facts ...

  (2005-12-22). The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory (Oxford Handbooks). Oxford University Press, USA. 

I think Mackie's strong internalism, where recognition of moral feature would overridingly motivate, is rejected nearly universally even among error theorists as it doesn't account for weakness of will.  Most moral realists tend to be motivational judgment externalists though.  MJE would account for amoralists or sociopaths who can make moral judgments but not be motivated to act in accord with them.

A question. I probably misunderstand something on the view, but, couldn´t it be the case that an internalist view is correct but the amoralist or the sociopath even though motivated to some degree by their moral judgement, simply are not motivated enough, or, the motivation even though playing a part, is not sufficient in most case, or, even in no case?

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aleph naught

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Finally, among realists there is serious disagreement even about what sort of thing a moral fact is. Thus some realists hold that moral facts are just a kind of natural fact, while others hold they are nonnatural or even supernatural. Some realists hold that moral facts are discoverable by empirical inquiry, while others see rational intuition or divine inspiration as essential to moral knowledge. Moreover, some realists believe that while there genuinely are moral facts, those facts are themselves dependent upon, and a reflection of, human nature or social practice. They thus combine a commitment to moral facts with a relativist or a contractarian or constructivist account of those facts.  Such views reject the idea that the moral facts exist independent of humans and their various capacities or practices. Yet, to the extent they are advanced as capturing accurately what the moral facts actually are, they are versions of moral realism. Needless to say, what one person might see as nicely accounting for the nature of moral facts, another might see as missing something essential or even as completely changing the subject. Thus, what one person might embrace as a successful defense of moral realism, another might see as, at best, a view one would embrace once one had given up on the thought that there are genuine moral facts.

  (2005-12-22). The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory (Oxford Handbooks) . Oxford University Press, USA.

 

Yes, I think the objectivity (or stance-independence) of morality is essential. Theists have given up on the thought that there are genuine moral facts, and just re-defined the word "objective" so that they can keep using it.

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ParaclitosLogos

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Finally, among realists there is serious disagreement even about what sort of thing a moral fact is. Thus some realists hold that moral facts are just a kind of natural fact, while others hold they are nonnatural or even supernatural. Some realists hold that moral facts are discoverable by empirical inquiry, while others see rational intuition or divine inspiration as essential to moral knowledge. Moreover, some realists believe that while there genuinely are moral facts, those facts are themselves dependent upon, and a reflection of, human nature or social practice. They thus combine a commitment to moral facts with a relativist or a contractarian or constructivist account of those facts.  Such views reject the idea that the moral facts exist independent of humans and their various capacities or practices. Yet, to the extent they are advanced as capturing accurately what the moral facts actually are, they are versions of moral realism. Needless to say, what one person might see as nicely accounting for the nature of moral facts, another might see as missing something essential or even as completely changing the subject. Thus, what one person might embrace as a successful defense of moral realism, another might see as, at best, a view one would embrace once one had given up on the thought that there are genuine moral facts.

  (2005-12-22). The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory (Oxford Handbooks) . Oxford University Press, USA.

 

Yes, I think the objectivity (or stance-independence) of morality is essential. Theists have given up on the thought that there are genuine moral facts, and just re-defined the word "objective" so that they can keep using it.

Non-naturalist are not the only ones who can re-define words.
"Needless to say, what one person might see as nicely accounting for the nature of moral facts, another might see as missing something essential or even as completely changing the subject"

Quote
But is not St. Thomas’ doctrine of the
existence of a natural law at the very center of his moral philosophy?
This view gains what currency it has from the casual identification of St.
Thomas’ doctrine of a natural law with the Objectivity of Morals Thesis.
Perhaps there is an historical connection between the term “natural law” and
the idea of the objectivity of morals. The term seems to have emerged from
the observation that, to put it in modern dress, the details of what it takes to
make a contract valid varies somewhat from one jurisdiction to another, but
the principle that contracts should be honored is common to all jurisdictions.
Public insults may be criminal in one jurisdiction and not in another, but
homicide is a crime everywhere. The variable might be thought of as
conventional law; the common as “natural” law, grounded in universal moral
norms. The variable might be thought of as conventional law; the common as “natural” law, grounded in universal moral norms. The existence of these common principles is suggested by St. Paul, in

his Epistle to the Romans:
The Gentiles do not have the Law… [but] their conduct shows
that what the Law commands is written in their hearts. Their
consciences also show that this is true, since their thoughts
sometimes accuse them and sometimes defend them.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2015, 10:57:27 am by ontologicalme »

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aleph naught

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Can someone tell me what the heck a "moral fact" is? What does that even mean? "Badness" and "Goodness" can't be facts because they are contentless in of themselves. For the Mooreans ("Goodness and Badness or whatever are primitives!")  and the deflationists, anyone want to clarify the distinction between "unanalayzable" and "non-existent"? You can't neatly seperate facts from values either. Or, in logical terms, subjects from predicates. You just have to take the sum of them as a "fact" that we can make sense of it by pointing at it or showing it.

Don't get hung up on the word 'fact', a moral fact is a fact like any other. I don't think there's anything to explain over and above any other sort of fact. What's more interesting are the moral properties that moral facts are about: goodness and evilness, rightness and wrongness. I think you're confusing metaphysics with semantics, though. I think most people have come to accept that moral terms are primitive (or pretty close to primitive). But there are many views on the nature of moral properties. Some think they are natural (reducing or being comprised of other natural properties like well-being), some think they are non-natural (such that there is a dualism between natural properties and moral properties, much like how mind/body dualists are dualists about consciousness and any other physical property). And then there's those theists who have the odd view that moral properties are made of god-stuff.

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caco3

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Moreover, some realists believe that while there genuinely are moral facts, those facts are themselves dependent upon, and a reflection of, human nature or social practice. They thus combine a commitment to moral facts with a relativist or a contractarian or constructivist account of those facts.  Such views reject the idea that the moral facts exist independent of humans and their various capacities or practices. Yet, to the extent they are advanced as capturing accurately what the moral facts actually are, they are versions of moral realism.

Christine Korsgaard would be an example of a Kantian constructivist.  I'd classify her and Kant as an antirealist because of the "dependence on human nature"—namely rationality.   Korsgaard classifies herself as a procedural realist.  Quoting from her book "Sources of Normativity":

“The procedural moral realist thinks that there are answers to moral questions because there are correct procedures for arriving at them.  But the substantive moral realist thinks that there are correct procedures for answering moral questions because there are moral truths or facts which exist independently of those procedures, and which those procedures track.”

On Korsgaard's view, moral truths follow from being an agent and valuing anything at all.  In short, she argues that in order to value anything at all you need to value our own humanity, which entails you value all of humanity.  Since "objective" moral truths follow from agency and rationality and don't exist mind-independently, I'd call this antirealism. (I don't think her argument works.)

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aleph naught

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Yes, I think the objectivity (or stance-independence) of morality is essential. Theists have given up on the thought that there are genuine moral facts, and just re-defined the word "objective" so that they can keep using it.

Non-naturalist are not the only ones who can re-define words.
"Needless to say, what one person might see as nicely accounting for the nature of moral facts, another might see as missing something essential or even as completely changing the subject"

Quote
But is not St. Thomas’ doctrine of the
existence of a natural law at the very center of his moral philosophy?
This view gains what currency it has from the casual identification of St.
Thomas’ doctrine of a natural law with the Objectivity of Morals Thesis.
Perhaps there is an historical connection between the term “natural law” and
the idea of the objectivity of morals. The term seems to have emerged from
the observation that, to put it in modern dress, the details of what it takes to
make a contract valid varies somewhat from one jurisdiction to another, but
the principle that contracts should be honored is common to all jurisdictions.
Public insults may be criminal in one jurisdiction and not in another, but
homicide is a crime everywhere. The variable might be thought of as
conventional law; the common as “natural” law, grounded in universal moral
norms. The variable might be thought of as conventional law; the common as “natural” law, grounded in universal moral norms. The existence of these common principles is suggested by St. Paul, in

his Epistle to the Romans:
The Gentiles do not have the Law… [but] their conduct shows
that what the Law commands is written in their hearts. Their
consciences also show that this is true, since their thoughts
sometimes accuse them and sometimes defend them.

Actually natural law theory does render morality stance-independent. A things teleological nature is an essential feature of it, and thus independent of any stance anyone takes towards the person. But natural law theory isn't inherently theistic.

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caco3

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A question. I probably misunderstand something on the view, but, couldn´t it be the case that an internalist view is correct but the amoralist or the sociopath even though motivated to some degree by their moral judgement, simply are not motivated enough, or, the motivation even though playing a part, is not sufficient in most case, or, even in no case?

Yes, I think that's what's called "weak internalism" as opposed to Mackie's stronger version.
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-motivation/

Even so, I think most moral realists are not even weak internalists.  Michael Smith would be a counter example, though, arguably his internalism isn't really internalist.

For an alternate argument against internalism that uses an evil guy rather than an amoralist, see Richard Joyce's "Myth of Morality" (pg. 20.).

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ParaclitosLogos

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A question. I probably misunderstand something on the view, but, couldn´t it be the case that an internalist view is correct but the amoralist or the sociopath even though motivated to some degree by their moral judgement, simply are not motivated enough, or, the motivation even though playing a part, is not sufficient in most case, or, even in no case?

Yes, I think that's what's called "weak internalism" as opposed to Mackie's stronger version.
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-motivation/

Even so, I think most moral realists are not even weak internalists.  Michael Smith would be a counter example, though, arguably his internalism isn't really internalist.

For an alternate argument against internalism that uses an evil guy rather than an amoralist, see Richard Joyce's "Myth of Morality" (pg. 20.).

Thanks Caco, I really appreciate the informativeness tone and attributes of your posts, I which I had more time to check on all this, but, I will try to check on the weekend.

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aleph naught

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ontologicalme and caco3, why would anyone be tempted to be an internalist to begin with? I've never understood the allure. It's always seemed plausible to me that an amoral person (someone who is not motivated, or even couldn't be motivated by morality) is possible.

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caco3

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ontologicalme and caco3, why would anyone be tempted to be an internalist to begin with? I've never understood the allure. It's always seemed plausible to me that an amoral person (someone who is not motivated, or even couldn't be motivated by morality) is possible.

I think it has to do with the idea that we think someone would have some pro tanto motivation to act in particular away if that person morally judged some action to be right/wrong.  Some see it as weird that someone could say it's good to do X, yet not have the slightest motivation to act that way.  Maybe the weirdness is like someone saying chocolate is good, yet not having any pro tanto motivation to eat chocolate.  The externalist counters by saying the amoralist is possible, while the internalist counters by saying that the amoralist is not really making a moral judgment, rather, they think the amoralist may just be describing what others in the society see as right/wrong.  I think this is at least partly an empirical issue as to how people use moral language, and partly semantical as to what each individual counts as a genuine moral judgment.  It could be that the internalist and externalist are simply talking past each other.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2015, 11:40:15 am by caco3 »