From Last time Cognitivism vs. non-cognitivism Subjective descriptivism Cultural relativism

From Last time
Cognitivism vs. non-cognitivism
Subjective descriptivism
Cultural relativism
Divine Command theory
Objectivism is the view that moral statements
have a truth value and the truth value does not
depend on psychological states of individuals
or groups or even God.
If objectivism is true, “pleasure is good”
would, if true, describe something about the
nature of pleasure itself.
The argument from disagreement
People often disagree about what is the right
thing to do. Different cultures also seem to
have different standards about what is right or
Therefore, it is reasonable to think that there
is no objective standard of what is right or
It is illegitimate to infer from “people disagree
about x” to “there is no fact about x”
Compare: People disagree about whether
God exists. Therefore there is no fact of the
matter whether God exists or not
It may be that the differences are not as great
as they seem when it comes to ultimate
values: the badness of suffering, the goodness
of friendship, etc.
The argument from queerness
Objective moral qualities would be “qualities
or relations of a very strange sort, utterly
different from anything else in the universe”
These properties would require “some special
faculty of moral perception or intuition,
utterly different from our ordinary ways of
knowing everything else”
How are moral qualities strange?
Objective moral qualities would be action
directing. If you know x is good you would
have a motive or reason to do x” But Mackie
thinks there are no objective qualities that in
themselves motivate behavior.
Objective moral qualities are also strange in
that they are not perceived by the senses and
are not part of the scientific description of the
Maybe what distinguishes moral properties is
just this prescriptive quality. (sometimes the
apprehension of a quality seems to lead to a
motivation—e.g. the awareness of pain leads
to aversion.
There are many other properties that do not
seem to be a part of a scientific description of
nature and are not perceived by the senses-numbers, logical truths
Ethical egoism is the view that what a person
ought to do is always what they judge to be in
their individual best interest to do.
Psychological egoism is the view that
everyone, in fact, always does act from a selfinterested motive
If psychological egoism is true, then ethical
egoism follows if we assume that “ought
implies can”—that is, if you have an
obligation to do something it must be possible
for you to do it.
Is psychological egoism true?
Is ethical egoism true?