To say that these are “objective truths” is to say that these claims are true regardless of what any person or group thinks about them. Even if I, we, all Americans, or even all humans think 2+3=6, it would still be true that 2+3=5. (b) Scientific truths: Most people think scientific truths are objective truths; their truth doesn’t depend on what anyone thinks. “The Earth is a globe” is a fact that doesn’t depend on what any person or group thinks about it. Even if I, we, all Americans, or even all humans think “The Earth is flat,” that wouldn’t affect the Earth’s shape.
(c) Historical truths: Most people think there are objective historical truths, such as: Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Japan lost in World War II. Adolf Hitler died in 1945. These are objective historical facts (or so most people think); that is, they’re true regardless of what any person or group thinks. BACK TO MORALITY: So our main question—are there objective MORAL truths?—means: Are there MORAL TRUTHS that are true regardless of what any person or group thinks of them? Here’s an example of the issue: Most people would accept the following moral judgment*: “It is morally wrong to torture babies just for fun.” But is that moral judgment objectively true? (is it an objective fact?). *NOTE: A moral judgment is a moral evaluation: a claim that something is morally right/wrong, good/bad, etc., such as “Abortion is wrong” and “Abortion is right.” (2) MORAL/ETHICAL OBJECTIVISM (see Ch. 2 of text) MORAL/ETHICAL OBJECTIVISM—which I’ll usually just call “Objectivism”—is the view that THERE ARE OBJECTIVE MORAL TRUTHS. *Objectivism is the theory defended in the text for this course.* DEFINITION: Objectivism = the view that there ARE objective moral truths. It’s the theory “that there are correct moral standards, and that these [moral] standards are true independently of what anyone, anywhere, thinks of them” . Objectivism is a theory about the STATUS of morality: It says only that there are objective moral truths. By itself it does NOT say which moral judgments are objectively true. For example, Objectivism by itself does NOT answer the question “Is abortion morally wrong?” Objectivism BY ITSELF does NOT tell us what
is morally right, wrong, good, bad, etc. It says ONLY that there are objective moral truths. What those truths are is another question, one not answered by Objectivism itself. Analogy: Suppose I claim “There are objective historical truths.” That claim by itself doesn’t tell you what the objective historical truths are. For example, it doesn’t tell you when Hitler died or even that there was such a person. But many people are skeptical about the existence of objective moral truths. That brings us to the opposite of Objectivism: (3) MORAL/ETHICAL SKEPTICISM (see Ch. 2 of text) MORAL/ETHICAL SKEPTICISM—which I’ll usually just call “Skepticism”—is the view that THERE ARE NO OBJECTIVE MORAL TRUTHS. You can think of it as “Anti-Objectivism.” DEFINITION: Skepticism = the view that there are no objective moral truths.
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- Fall '13
- Wade Singletary