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Mackie, Gensler, and Enoch

by: Hannah Kennedy

Mackie, Gensler, and Enoch 21001

Marketplace > Kent State University > PHIL-Philosophy > 21001 > Mackie Gensler and Enoch
Hannah Kennedy
GPA 3.98

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These noted cover everything on Mackie, Gensler, and Enoch in the normative ethics section
Intro to Ethics
Devon M. Hawkins
Class Notes
ethics, philosophy
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hannah Kennedy on Sunday May 1, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 21001 at Kent State University taught by Devon M. Hawkins in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 22 views. For similar materials see Intro to Ethics in PHIL-Philosophy at Kent State University.


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Date Created: 05/01/16
© Hannah Kennedy, Kent State University 1 4/20 Lecture Notes—Mackie  1. Mackie (1917­1981) a. Background i. Australian ii. Went to the University of Sydney the Oxford for his education iii. Was a professor at the University of Sydney when he dies in 1981 iv. Known for Metaethics b. Philosophy i. Metaethics: positivist = (idealism) = only things analyzable by logic exist and are  worth philosophical investigation 1. Anything that is analyzable can be proved with logic and science 2. Doesn’t believe objective values exist a. This makes it very hard for him to be a realist thus his Metaethics  lying in idealism ii. Epistemology: empiricist iii. Ethics: positivist, moral anti­realist, believes that there are not such things as  objective values, does not think that ethics are rational 2. Arguments against the existence of objective values (pg 175) (2 arguments) a. The argument from relativity i. Proven by the existence of multiple ethical/moral codes across cultures and time 1. We live certain ways and because we live in these ways we think they’re  moral aka we develop moral codes from our behavior and customs, we do not  determine our customs from our moral codes therefore there are probably no  objective values a. Ex = monogamy i. Counter­argument (pg 175): Objective principles are very  general and the differences we see in different places and times are simply specification of the same general principles 1. Mackie’s response to counter­argument (pg 176):  we don’t rationalize our behavior (moral) like this. a. People base their behavior off of emotion, or  possibly intuition b. The argument from Queerness (2 parts)—objective values are weird i. Metaphysical: objective values (if they existed) would be unlike anything in the  universe.  ii. Epistemological: we would have to have a special faculty in order to perceive these  weird things.  1. Because we can’t prove their existence and we don’t have any special faculty,  then objective values must not exist a. Counter­argument #1: why can’t our perception, as it is now, be  strong enough to perceive these objective values  i. Mackie’s response to counter­argument #1: the project of  trying to prove this empirically is too big  b. Counter­argument #2 (pg 180): maybe the values themselves are  more ordinary. © Hannah Kennedy, Kent State University 2 i. Mackie’s response to counter­argument #2: then, they  wouldn’t be any different from our normal everyday  judgements. He claims this counter would allow us to smuggle  in moral authority where it isn’t and to think of morality as far  too rational  c. Error theory = theory that explains why we make certain mistakes. We make the mistake of believing in objective values because we fall into patterns of objectification (3 ways) i. we project because we want things (objects) 1. The pathetic fallacy (pg 181) = project my desire onto an object a. we want certain things (objects of moral obligation) so we project our  desires/wants onto them  b. this is a mistake, says Mackie  i. we don’t desire it because it’s good  ii. it is good because we desire it ii. we project because we need morality (pg 181) 1. it helps society stay intact 2. it regulates personal interactions iii. we project because we are socially conditioned to  © Hannah Kennedy, Kent State University 1 4/27/16 Lecture Notes—Gensler and Enoch 1. Gensler a. “Ima Relativist”—Character that argues why morality stems from relativity (states 3 things about relativism) i. Morality is a product of culture 1. Response: why can’t cultures make/create objective claims?  a. Ex = books and art ii. Cultures widely disagree about morality  1. Response: disagreement doesn’t prove anything a. Ex = scientists disagree all the time and science is objective iii. There is no clear way to resolve moral differences  1. Response: just because we can’t fix all disagreements doesn’t mean we can’t  fix a lot of them b. Gensler’s objections to cultural relativism (4) i. We must conform to society’s norms; we cannot disagree with these norms 1. Subjectivist fallacy = articulation of why relativism is self­defeating aka  the definition is a contradiction a. Ex: if I say, “relativism is false” this statement must be true according  to relativism.  i. But, then I have conflicting truth values: relativism cannot be  both true and false at the same time ii. Cannot account for tolerance  iii. Cannot account for overlapping social groups 1. Aka whose rules/norms are you supposed to follow? iv. Implies that social norms are automatically correct or right  2. Enoch a. Background i. Professor of law and philosophy at Hebrew University of Jerusalem ii. Undergrad at the university of Tel Aviv iii. PhD in philosophy from New York University in 2003 b. 3 tests of objectivity: we are testing the subject matter i. The Spinach Test 1. Formulate an analog to the Spinach Joke and if it’s not funny, then it’s  probably best dealt with objectively  ii. The Phenomenology of disagreement/agreement test  1. Phenomenology = the study of events/experiences  2. This test suggests that we observe the way moral disagreement/agreement  feels from the inside  a. Ex: compare liking chocolate and liking global warming.  iii. The Counter­factual Test 1. What if the facts were different 2. Ex: smoking, gender­based discrimination c. So, what are these 3 tests supposed to teach us? (2 things) i. (pg 198) objectivity, a good definition 1. Subject matter is objective if truths about it exist independently from what  we personally think or feel about them 2. Moral truths are “response­independent” © Hannah Kennedy, Kent State University 2 a. They are true regardless of whether we approve/disapprove of the  action in question 3. Objective facts are discovered not created  ii. We have proven that morality can aspire to be objective, and should do so. We have  not proven whether any moral code has achieved this d. Objections i. Disagreement  1. Response to the disagreement objection: if disagreement undermines  objectivity, then it undermines all objective claims, even those that claim  “morality is not objective” ii. Moral knowledge: how do we know objective values?  1. Response to the moral knowledge objection: to have this a priori knowledge  we must have a general epistemology that can explain how we know a priori  things 2. Descartes claims to have done this a. “I think therefore I am” i. The first axiom. My existence is proven by the fact that I am  able to think  b. Even if we don’t agree on Descartes—or any other philosopher  claiming to have done this—we are only lead back to the problems  with disagreement © Hannah Kennedy, Kent State University 1 4/25 Lecture Notes—Mackie and Gensler 1. Mackie a. Philosophy i. Metaphysics: positivist ii. Epistemology: empiricist iii. Ethics: positivist, ethical anti­realist 1. Believes that no objective values exists b. Argument from Relativity i. There are many different moral codes 1. The best explanation is that our cultures drive our moral codes rather than  our moral codes driving our cultures a. Conclusion = there are no objective values b. Counter argument = perhaps we are specifying more general values  that we all share to fit our specific culture c. Response to counter argument = that is too rational; morality is  based on emotion, not rationality c. Argument from Queerness i. 2­pronged argument 1. Epistemological = if objective values exist, we need a special faculty to  perceive them 2. Metaphysical = if they exist, objective values are unlike anything else in the  universe  a. Therefore, because we have no special faculty and no empirical proof  of objective values, they cannot exist i. Counter argument 1 = why can’t we perceive objective values  with our current perceptive faculties? ii. Response to counter argument 1 = the project of proving this is too big iii. Counter argument 2 = maybe the objective values aren’t that  weird. Maybe they are more ordinary/general in nature iv. Response to counter argument 2 = objective values won’t be  any different from everyday judgement, so we risk giving them  too much moral authority because we will unknowingly attach  emotional responses to them d. Error theory = we believe there are objective values (wrongly) because we project. Why do we project? (3 reasons) i. We objectify/project because we want things 1. This is something I really want some I am going to project it onto moral  structure ii. We need project because we need morality  1. Morality regulates social interaction iii. We project because we are socially conditioned to do so. 2. Gensler a. Background i. Professor of philosophy at Loyola University of Chicago ii. AOS include logic, ethics, religious philosophy © Hannah Kennedy, Kent State University 2 iii. Ordained catholic priest, Jesuit order iv. Got his PhD in philosophy at Michigan b. Philosophy  i. Ethics: moral realist c. Cultural Relativism vs. ethical relativism Cultural relativism Ethical relativism ­ focuses on moral values, assuming that not all  the values of a culture are ethical/moral in nature i. Relativism = we will use in the capacity of ethical relativism d. Ima relativist (pg 185) i. Why is morality relative? (3 things) 1. Morality is a product of culture a. Ex = roman infanticide i. Problem: why can’t culture have objective truths? (ex = books  and other forms of arts that express things that are seen across cultures and how we think we all should behave regardless of  where we come from) 2. Cultures are very different and widely disagree about morality a. Ex = Hitler is bad because my culture says he’s bad  i. Problem: just because they disagree doesn’t mean that there  isn’t any other answer and we couldn’t find another way 3. There is no clear way to distinguish between different moral codes/culture a. Problem: just because there are a lot doesn’t mean we can’t get a  whole bunch of them e. Objections to Cultural Relativism (4 objections) (pg 186) i. We must conform to our society’s norms and we cannot disagree  1. Subjectivist fallacy = (explains subjectivism is self­defeating) =  subjectivism (aka relativism) holds that whatever I, or my society, says is  true. This creates the possibility for conflicting truth values a. Ex = “subjectivism is false” i. This must be true if subjectivism is true. So, subjectivism is  true and false at the same time. 1. This is “absurd” because it is a logical contradiction a. This makes subjectivism a self­defeating  principle ii. Can’t account for tolerance iii. Can’t account for overlapping social groups 1. Ex = school, church, Greek organizations iv. Implies that social norms are automatically right 1. Implies that majority rules. Implies that if the majority does it then it must  be right.  f. Socially acceptable does not equal moral good (this is what the objectivist moralists think) g. Socially acceptable equals morally good (this is what ethical relativists think)


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