Lecture_WalzeragainstRealism

Lecture_WalzeragainstRealism - 1 Lecture in troduction to...

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1 Lecture –introduction to Walzer, , chapter 1 Philosophy 162 Winter, 2008 The Nature of Moral Controversy When there is ethical controversy, and people disagree about what morally we ought to do, what sort of disagreement is this? For example, suppose one person supports capital punishment for some crimes and another person is opposed. What is going on? One view is that when one person claims that capital punishment ought to be carried out, and another denies this, the one is making a genuine assertion, capable of being true or false. The question immediately arises, what is it for a moral claim to be true or false. What makes such a claim true or false? Contrast moral (and other normative) claims about what should be done with empirical factual claims. These represent the world as being a certain way, and are true or false depending on whether or not the world is the way the empirical claim represents it as being. In broad terms we know how to resolve empirical factual disputes—by observation and the evidence of our senses, as interpreted by common sense and the more refined methods of the empirical sciences. Sometimes moral disagreement does reduce to empirical factual disagreement. One person might favor capital punishment on the ground that it significantly deters people from committing serious crimes and hence reduces the total number of serious crimes, while an opponent of capital punishment might believe that capital punishment does not significantly deter crime in this way. But moral disagreement can persist even if we agree about all the facts that might seem relevant to the issue. For example, a person might hold that it is inherently morally wrong for the state deliberately to kill a human person, whatever the consequences, while another person rejects this moral claim. How might this claim be assessed as true or false? Some deny that in such a case there is genuine disagreement in assertions capable of being true or false. There is the appearance of disagreement, but nothing in the world could make any moral claim true or false. What is really going on here is that people who disagree morally are disagreeing in their attitudes. The claim that capital punishment is morally wrong expresses a negative attitude about capital punishment and the claim that capital punishment is morally acceptable expresses a positive or pro-attitude regarding capital punishment. When someone says “capital punishment is morally wrong,” what the person is saying is roughly equivalent to “boo for capital punishment!” and “capital punishment is morally acceptable” is roughly equivalent to “yea for capital punishment!”. Call this view about the nature of moral judgments expressivism —moral judgments are not genuine assertions capable of being true or false but rather express the emotional attitudes of the speaker. On this view, moral argument would seem to be futile, unless it is understood as an attempt at manipulating another person’s attitudes, inducing attitude change. (But—to
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Lecture_WalzeragainstRealism - 1 Lecture in troduction to...

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