Seminar in Metaphysics and Epistemology
Seminar in Metaphysics and Epistemology PHIL 470
Cal State Fullerton
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Antonette Anderson on Wednesday September 30, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL 470 at California State University - Fullerton taught by Staff in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 35 views. For similar materials see /class/217084/phil-470-california-state-university-fullerton in PHIL-Philosophy at California State University - Fullerton.
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Date Created: 09/30/15
Blackburn 1 PHIL 470 Seminar Metaphysics amp Epistemology Truth and Reality Handout 25 Simon Blackburn How to Be an Ethical AntiRealist Professor J eeLoo Liu Blackburn s theory Projectivism Summary 1 5 9 5 U ax gt1 so 0 H There is no external moral fact There are no objective ethical properties in actions or states of affairs When we give an ethical judgment when we express an ethical proposition we are not describing anything external to and independent of our very judgment The ethical proposition gets its identity as a focus for practical thought as people communicate their certainties insistences and doubts about what to value There is no truthcondition for any ethical statement What we express is merely our own states of mind how we value things But we do not describe our states of mind we simply voice them For example it is not that we state I judge murder to be wrong It is rather that Murder is wrong expresses my attitude on murder Ethical phenomenon is essentially people valuing things For a subject S to think that X is good is for S to value it This evaluative state of mind is nonetheless a natural state and a naturally describable state It can be explained in natural terms Ethics remains essentially practical a matter of attitude disposition and emotion Ethics is not strictly about the way the world is it is about the way we view the world and the way we value things in the world For every fact there is a question about what to do about it Ethics is just a discussion of what to do about things Notes N 9 4 Blackburn 2 Projectivism expressivism quasi realism 2 practical functionalism It is a form of non cognitivism and has commonly been interpreted as a form of anti realism RealismAnti realism in ethics A realist will emphasize that the way we think of moral issues is independent of our own opinions It is an objective matter whether something is good or a certain act moral An anti realist will emphasize the contingent and variable patterns of attitude that lead different people to respect different rights and duties and suggest that rather than reflecting on an ethical reality it is these responses that create it Realism Cognitivism A realist about X holds that discourse about X is apt for truth or falsity Cognitivism is the view that moral judgments have a truth value are either true or false A cognitivist claims that beliefs are at the foundation of morality We have beliefs about what is good beliefs about what is worth valuing and beliefs about what are good reasons for acting and these beliefs determine our attitudes desires and feelings Beliefs are things that are true or false Anti realism Non cognitivism In general non cognitivism can be described as the view that moral judgments have no truth value they are neither true nor false For a non cognitivist ethical statements about X do not function in a genuinely descriptive way but rather some other linguistic function Ethical statements are expressive or imperative giving commands rather than descriptive of facts The attitudes feelings and desires we have are fundamental in morality our morality and the value we give to particular actions reflect the concerns we have Ethical naturalism external naturalism vs internal naturalism The external naturalist thinks that once we understand the nature of reality metaphysics and the nature of human perception in understanding the reality epistemology ethics follows logically from the relation of man s place in reality s order The principle of morality can be derived from objective reasoning ie from the observation and explanation of facts about the natural world and humankind s place in it Thus moral behavior is simply rational choice William Merriman The internal naturalist thinks that we can still understand ethics in naturalistic terms but where we would locate these natural properties are not the outside world but our own states of mind Given that we humans are part of nature our desires preferences dislikes emotions etc should all be seen as natural To understand ethics we need to understand humans instead of the world Simon Blackburn is clearly Blackburn 3 i a projectivist ii a noncognitivist iii an ethical antirealist and iv an internal naturalist Examples of A Projectivist Synthesis of Ethical Propositions 1 Being that X is good or right 9 roughly having an appropriate satisfactory valuation of X 2 Wondering whether X is good or right 9 wondering what to do what to admire or value 3 Denying that X is good or right 9 rejecting a favorable attitude to X 4 Being certain that X is good or right 9 having a settled attitude rejecting the possibility that improvement could result in change 5 Knowing that X is good or right 9 knowing to choose X or admire X etc Projectivism but NOT Relativism There is one last charge of the would be realist This claims that projectivism must lead to relativism Truth must be relative to whatever set of attitudes is grounding our ethical stance since these may vary from place to place and time to time truth must be relative Yet surely this is a mistake The verdict is relative having no truth outside the local system of presences that causes it The image is plain a projectivist may inhabit a particular ethical boat but he must know of the actual or potential existence of others where then is the absolute truth The answer is that it is not anywhere that can be visible from this sideways theoretical perspective It is not that this perspective is illegitimate but that it is not the one adapted for finding ethical truth Two claims of ethical relativism 1 Richard Rorty Anything can be made to look good or bad by being redescribed 2 Ronald Dworkin We only have views within ethics we do not have a View about ethics All the relevant questions are internal rstorder moral questions Blackburn s critique There is no way of escaping from ethics Faced with different vocabularies and voices we compare theirs with ours If they seem to have got something right which we have not we learn from them If we have something right that they have not we may be able to teach them If their attitudes are foul and frightful we may have to be at war with them Blackburn 4 Ethical truths as it is conceived by us as we debate cannot be a truth about where we will end up or would end up after certain empirical procedures Rather we conceive of it as truth about where we ought to end up or where we would end up if we were good What we hope to show as we preserve with analyses of social phenomena deploying analogies turning the values involved around in our minds is that there is nothing else for good decent people to think virtue ethics For quasi realism an ethics is the propositional reflection of the dispositions and attitudes policies and stances of people The virtue of a system of ethics are simply the virtues of the people who have it The last word is the rst word We stay with the original moral claim and deliberate about it as best we can Good decent people This is good Examples of Different Positions 1 Slavery is a bad system 2 Our opinion is this slavery is a bad system Projectivism 3 Slavery is a bad system That is just our opinion Relativism 4 Slavery is a bad system That is an opinion re ecting an independent order of reason Absolutism Blackburn 1 2 3 is just a concession While with 4 we have no conception of the nature of this independent order Objectivity Objectivity is a moral virtue and one to be striven and respected We are social animals with certain biological needs We have to coordinate our efforts we have to establish systems of property and promise keeping and sometimes even government We can take comfort in re ecting that there are not so many admirable coherent mature livable ethical systems on offer Blackburn 5 There is objectivity in the sense of fairness and impartiality the virtue above all law courts and public administration And there is objectivity of recognizing that it is not our own opinions that ground the rightness and wrongness of things Cruelty is not bad because I think it is bad but because it exhibits the intention to cause pain What we need to do is to make our responses mature imaginative cultured sympathetic and coherent and we can accept what help we can from people who have thought more deeply about human life Persons on different mountains need not perturb us unless they can show that they are where we ought to be But to show that they must do some ethics and we in turn will be using our values as we respond to theirs We stand on our feet and our feet are human feet This is how it is and how it must be Conclusion How to do Ethics 1 la Projectivism 1 One might be tempted to think that if there is a real property identity anyone might be tempted to think that if there is a real property identity anyone missing it must be making an objective metaphysical error But this is not so since all it takes to miss it is a defective ethical sensibility N Ethics is about our attitudes our deliberation and our action its function is to mediate the move from features of a situation to a reaction which in the appropriate circumstances will mean choice 93 It is because our responses that we say that cruelty is wrong but it is not because of our responses scrutinized and collective or otherwise that cruelty is wrong It is tempting to think on this metaphysics the world contains nothing but us and our responses so the fact that cruelty is bad must be created by our responses What else is there for it to be dependent upon The prejudice is to treat the moral fact as a natural one capable of being constituted made or unmade by sensibilities 5 The only things in this world are the attitudes of people and those of course are trivially and harmlessly minddependent It matters to us that people have some attitudes and not others and we educate them and put pressures on them in the hope that they will U In saying these things I am of course voicing some sentiments of my own ethical stances but as I promised it is only by doing this that ethical truth is found 9 This is the world seen from the viewpoint that sees different and con icting moral systems but inevitably sees no truth in just one of them To see the truth that wanton cruelty is wrong demands moralizing stepping back into Blackburn 6 the boat or putting back the lens of a sensibility But once that is done there is nothing relativistic left to say
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