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beings, even after human beings have departed from the scene, and even if such principles arenever exemplified. Here's an example designed to cement those points. It isn't pretty. I propose that thefollowing moral principle is eternally true: it is wrong to hammer nails into a living baby, chop itinto a billion pieces, boil the remains and force its mother to drink the concoction. Thank Godsuch a thing has never happened. Hopefully it never will. Neither of these points alters the truth ofthe principle. Lest you think that such a principle comes into existence only when human babiesdo, imagine the scenario only slightly changed. Suppose, a thousand years from now, that weencounter beings just like us in every way, except that their sustaining systems are silicon-based,rather than DNA-based. Still, it would be wrong to mutilate and murder such a baby. The fact thatsuch beings don't exist, and probably never will, doesn't alter the truth of the amended principle. If you agree with that, then you have come around to the idea that moral principles mightbe eternal. For such principles can be true even if they are never exemplified (much like theprinciple about the trillion-sided figure). They can be true prior to the existence of the things theymention (the alien infanticide example). They can be true even prior to the existence of alanguage, or a language-user, capable of formulating them (two atoms and two atoms...). Sincethat is so, what is to prevent us from saying that they were always true? For consider: if suchprinciples are allowed to be true even prior to the existence of the things they mention, then atwhat earlier point did they become true? I don't see any non-arbitrary moment one could rely on.Short of that, it seems that they were always true.Brief recap. The main criticism we are entertaining in this chapter is the one that chargesethical objectivists with an obscure account of the origins of moral truths. If moral skepticism isfalse, then moral principles are not human inventions. If the Divine Command Theory is false, thenGod doesn't make them up, either. No one else is left. So it must be that no one makes up themoral rules. But if that is so, then it seems that objectivists are committed to the existence ofeternal moral truths, and that seemed very implausible.My reply: first, an objective morality need not be an eternal one. Moral principles could be
58relevantly like those that govern DNA, photosynthesis, etc.--they came into being only when thethings they describe took on a determinate nature. Yet I also bit the bullet, and in the last fewpages have tried to show that the idea of eternal moral laws is not as weird or implausible asmight have been thought.Who makes up the moral rules? No one. Then where do they come from? Well, where dothe laws of chemistry, or physics, or mathematics come from? It may sound lame to say that suchlaws come from the way the physical, or chemical, or mathematical world is ordered. It's not thatilluminating an answer. But it does have the virtue of being true. And not every question admits of
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The Maids, United Nations General Assembly, nihilists, University of Kansas, Russ Shafer-Landau