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Religion & Ethics

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Justin Litaker

on 28 January 2017

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Transcript of Religion & Ethics

1. If moral disagreements were about factual matters, then they could all be settled by answering factual questions.

2. Many moral disagreements persist even when answers to all of the relevant factual questions are known.

C. Therefore, moral disagreements are not about factual matters. (i.e., there are no moral facts.
Simple Subjectivism
Emotivism (E):

Emotivism & the Problems of Simple Subjectivism
Ethical Subjectivism:
the position that moral opinions are based on our feelings and nothing more
Problems for Simple Subjectivism
Are There Moral Facts?
Religion & Ethics
Problems with Emotivism
An Argument for Moral Skepticism
The Basic Idea of Ethical Subjectivism
People have different opinions, but where morality is concerned, there are no “facts,” and no one is “right.” People just feel differently, and that’s the end of it.
What follows?
1. There are no facts or objectives truths in morality

2. There are no absolutely right answers to moral questions

3. Morality is
a. a mere matter of personal opinion
b. a mere expression or statement of feelings
c. a matter of sentiment/emotion/feeling, not truth, fact, or reason

4. The wrongness or rightness is something we (the perceiver) add
Simple Subjectivism
According to Simple Subjectivism, moral statements are really reports about one’s personal psychological state: how one is disposed to feel or behave with regard to an issue.
(O1) Problem of Disagreement:
it makes disagreement impossible because (according to SS) we are talking about our own feelings toward actions and not the actions themselves.
(O2) Problem of Persuasion:
It makes our acts of giving reason and trying to persuade one another of moral positions mysterious
(O3) Problem of Infallibility:
It makes (sincerely stated) moral statements infallible – since we are only ever talking about our own attitudes (e.g. “I approve/disapprove of X”)
Though they have the surface grammar of statements, moral judgments are really disguised commands or emotional expressions.
Moral utterances are:
Commands (not T or F)
Expressions of Emotions (not T or F)
“X is morally right/wrong” means
"Do X"
"Yuck on X" or "Boo X" or "X stinks"
(O1) Problem of Disagreement
According to Emotivism, there can be disagreement in
even where there is agreement in
(O2) Problem of Persuasion
According to Emotivism, the very point of moral utterances is for the sake of influencing behavior (commands or expressions)
(O3) Problem of Infallibility
Moral utterances are not infallible, because they aren't attempts to say true or false things
• For Simple Subjectivism, our judgments cannot be criticized because they will always be true
• For Emotivism, our moral judgments cannot be criticized because they are not judgments at all, they are merely expressions of attitude, which cannot be false
• If purpose of moral language is to influence behavior or attitude, then what is the purpose of reason giving in morality?
• Answer: to influence attitudes
• So a good reason (according to E) is any consideration that has this desired affect (influences the attitude in the right way)
• But this is an absurd view of what good reasons are and of the point of reason giving
• Good reasons are not simply the ones that have the desired psychological effect, they must also be relevant to the judgment
To be a good reason, it must be legitimate. I.e. the claim must be true.
(1) Moral truths/facts/values exist in same way as stars/planets exist
(2) Or moral truths/facts/values are mere personal feelings or emotions or attitudes (that we take toward behavior)
The subjectivist argues that since (1) is obviously false, (2) must be true; Hence subjectivism is true
The False Dilemma of Subjectivism
(3) Moral Truths are Truths of Reasons (they exist as truths of reason)
i. A moral judgment is true if it is backed by better reasons than its alternatives
ii. The correct answer to moral questions is the answer that has the weight of reason on its side.
The Third Way
• They are true independently of what we
to think
• We can't
the weight of reason lie on one side of an issue merely by
it to lie on that side of the issue
• Reason says what it says regardless of our desires about what it says
• We can be mistaken in ethics; we can be wrong about what reason commends (about where the weight of reason lies).
Moral Truths are Objective in the Sense that:
the view that the statement “X is morally right (or wrong)” means “I (the speaker) approve of (or disapprove of) X,” and nothing more
the position that moral statements express, but do not report, our emotional attitudes to issues.
(O1) Problem of Infallibility (again)
(O2) Problem of Reason-Giving
Does Morality Depend on Religion
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