b. For Blanshard, they looked at ethics/ moral categories, and they didn’t seem to fit in to their nice neat theory of scientific knowledge. c. For Blanshard, these Logical positivists/subjectivists asked themselves, what do we do? i. These subjectivists/Logical Positivists decided, ethics could not stay having these objective moral categories of Good, truth and because such categories would be at odds with their nice tight theory (logical positivism) that meaning or knowledge is only what can be empirically verified as fact. ii. Therefore, they decided to render Moral categories as meaningless, pseudo-concepts, empty exclamatory phrases etc. d. For Blanshard, the problem is, the subjectivists made this theory never thinking about ethics. e. And this theory of logical positivism (meaning=verification), might be a nice simple fit for empirical knowledge is not a good fit for questions of value/moral judgments—it does not explain moral categories but explained them away! f. Bottom Line: This theory of meaning=verification was not made with ethics in mind, it is not a theory about ethics at all, and when applied to ethics, it fails. (Think James on the theory of determinism, too widespread, fails to explain, rather explains away…) Blanshard’s Defense of Moral Objectivity - Blanshard will refute the subjectivist notion that when we make a moral judgment we are not speaking about anything objective only about our own feelings at that moment. 1) Good empirical fit bad moral fit- While, Logical Positivism might be a good scientific fit to explain scientific meaning=’s verification, it is a bad moral fit. 31 | P a g e
2) The subjectivist Theory of Logical Positivism limits what is meaningful- it doesn’t explain my morality it explains it away by limiting the amount of experiences considered “meaningful”. For Blanshard, like Ewing, ethics cannot be denied as meaningful just because it doesn’t fit with this (subjectivistic/logical positivistic) very limited and scientific theory of knowledge. 3) Blanshard will attempt to show that Subjectivism/Logical Positivism makes nonsense of meaning- Blanshard attempts to show how the key problems with subjectivism: a. the loss of continuity in judgments/relative to my personal feelings; b. Nothing is logically incompatible, i.e., no judgment is really “wrong”—both are right— Lead to absurdity .-If I accept subjectivism and its relativity to my feelings, I must go against what I experience or consider moral. The Rabbit examples (the Problem with this new subjectivism/logical positivism) 1) The problem with No continuity/Relativity – the Judgment is relative to me and my feelings means no independent “badness” of the rabbits suffering)–when we make a judgment it is utterly relative to the present moment and to the present feeling, and: a. it means nothing about anything outside of us, b. the judgment is only about me at that present moment. So much so, what I am judging about ceases to be meaningful when I leave the judgment behind.
- Fall '19