Moral Truths

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  • Moral Truths
    • Cognitivism
      • There are moral facts and these moral properties are a genuine part of the world
      • Moral progress:If there were no facts about morality then one view of morality would not have been succeeded by another
      • Morality is 'outside' us: We feel answerable to a higher behaviour
        • If this is the case, why do so many other thing motivate us?
          • Weakness of Will
      • Mistakes: if there were no facts about right and wrong then mistakes would be impossible
    • Naturalists
      • Moral facts exist as features of actions
      • Moral facts are part of the natural features of the world
      • Utilitarians
        • Mill
          • The greatest happiness for the greatest amount is moral knowledge
          • Goodness leads to happiness, and arguable happiness is a natural property
          • We cannot infer that what is worth desiring is desired
      • Natural Law
        • Aristotle
          • 'Living Well' is the ultimate goal of human action
            • 'Living Well' involves 'human flourishing
              • Doing what is moral in order to live well can help human beings flourish
          • Foot
            • Moral reasoning is constrained by moral facts or a moral reality external to us
            • In consequence to the facts about human welfare and flourishing, we can reach moral conclusions
            • She argues an inevitable link between human welfare and behaving virtuously. The link is contingent and dependent on circumstances, rather than necessary
      • All naturalist theories can be found guilty of natural fallacy
        • Hume: Is-Ought Gap
          • There is a gap between describing the facts and saying that something ought to be done
            • The gap occurs because morality is not a matter of fact, but a matter of attitude that we take to the facts
          • Ought claims are emotive - expressions of approval or disapprobation. They may evince attitudes but they are not characteristic of events themselves. Values  are not in the world but are projected onto it, and likened to secondary properties
          • Factual utterances describe the world and their claims can be checked out to be true or flase
          • There entails a seperation between facts and balues
        • Moore: the Open Question Argument
          • Any definition should present synonyms and would thus result in a closed questions (tautology)
          • Goodness is a simple but analysable property. To equate it to any other property is a mistake
            • Goodness is not a part of the natural or scientific world, but a part of reality
            • Goodness cannot have any other properties
          • Goodness cannot be happiness or else it would be a tautology
            • Goodness cannot have any other properties
        • Natural Fallacy is the attempt to equate goodness to any natural property
      • Moral truths are closely tied with physical, natural, empirical facts
    • Plato
      • Moral truth is knowledge of the Forms
      • Our ability to recognise goodness depends on a priori knowledge of goodness
        • What we perceive in the real world are shadows of the world of the forms
      • The Form of the Good
        • Good is a God-independent transcendent truth
        • The highest form
        • The source of absolute moral values
        • Once people know of the form of the Good they can be rewarded accordingly
          • There is moral elitism in rewarding people according to their desert
            • Lack of respect for the unique value of all human beings
        • Qualities
          • Is the ideal reality and the paradigm of right behaviour
            • Confuses the 'typical' with the 'ideal': we can define the essence of something without making any (moral) value judgement
          • Is an unchanging, constant truth which we can understand
          • Is the purpose of all action
          • Is what people desire
            • The Good Life is what all people seek and its the aim of life
        • Only provides us with synonyms and allegories which does not explain what the 'good' consists of
    • Weakness of Will
      • Occurs when someone knows the good thing to do but does the opposite
      • Socrates argued that weakness of will is impossible
        • Since being moral is always in your self-interest in the long run, and doing the moral thing is always good in itself, doing otherwise would be contradictory to reason
          • People who do the wrong thing may not have entire moral knowledge or do not fully understand the situation
            • Aristotle said that moral knowledge is not simply knowledge, it is knowledge held and exercised in the right way
      • Aristotle said that moral knowledge is not simply knowledge, it is knowledge held and exercised in the right way
    • Supervenience
      • Values supervene on facts, rather than necessarily deriving from facts
      • Te relationship of subservience means first that values are dependent on facts and that there can be no difference or change in moral values without a difference or change in non-moral properties
    • Searle
      • Attempts to derive value from facts via institutional and social facts (that certain human conventions entail values)
      • So, if one utters a promise to someone (fact) then one enters into a social practice which in turn entails a moral obligation (value)
        • Implicit in the act are concealed values and choices
        • Moral obligations are contestable and there can be disagreements dependent on circumstances and moral interactions
        • Hare: there is a concealed premise in a promise
          • Perhaps Hare overestimates the extent to which we can stand outside social situations and make autonomous choices
    • McDowell
      • Moral rightness is a matter of perception, but that rightness cannot be a primary quality because whatever is right is tied to human sensibility and we would need a faculty by which these objective moral qualities were comprehended
      • Moral properties are subjective
        • They are not independent of human perception
      • Moral properties are objective
        • We experience them as properties of objects that make certain demands on us
      • These properties will elicit appropriate responses, under normal circumstances to those who are suitably sensitive

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