(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 is the “theory that claims 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.Regarding the question “Are there any objective moral truths?” Objectivism says YES, Skepticism says NO. Exactly one of these two theories is true, because either there IS at least one objective moral truth (in which case Objectivism is true), or there ISN’T (in which case Skepticism is true). Of course, they cannot both be true, because they contradict each other (like “God does exist” and “God does not exist”).
Skepticism comes in three main versions.(3.1) THREE MAIN KINDS OF MORAL SKEPTICISM: SUBJECTIVISM, RELATIVISM, NIHILISMSUBJECTIVISM is the view that MORAL TRUTH (BUT NOT OBJECTIVE MORAL TRUTH) EXISTS BUT IS ENTIRELY SUBJECTIVE, WHICH MEANS: PURELY A MATTER OF PERSONAL SAY-SO, PERSONAL OPINION. According to Subjectivism, whether a moral judgment is true or false depends entirely on one’s beliefs orfeelings about it. Morality is thus purely a matter of personal opinion. If I believe that some act X is right, that makes X right. If I believe X is wrong, that makes X wrong. Subjectivism “claims that there is good and evil, but only in the eye of the beholder” [10, bold add.]. There is only subjective moral truth, NOT objective moral truth.
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- Fall '09