20TH C ANGLO
20TH C ANGLO PHIL 176
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This 9 page Class Notes was uploaded by Noemie Kiehn on Monday October 5, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL 176 at California State University - Sacramento taught by Staff in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 43 views. For similar materials see /class/218862/phil-176-california-state-university-sacramento in PHIL-Philosophy at California State University - Sacramento.
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Date Created: 10/05/15
OBJECTION TO RADICAL EMPIRICISM There are two types of speculative knowledge knowledge of facts and knowledge of value Statements of value both ethical and aesthetic do not appear to be empirically verifiable Showing that all knowledge of facts must be empirically verifiable does not show that aH synthetic statements must be empirically verifiable So radical empiricism must be wrong COUNTEROBJECTION Statements of value insofar as they are significant are verifiable in the same way that all synthetic statements are Insofar as statements of value are not scientific they are not in the literal sense significant but are simply expressions of emotion that can be neither true nor false This classification into significant and not significant applies to statements of aesthetics as well FOUR TYPES OF ETHICAL STATEMENTS 1Propositions which express definitions of ethical terms orjudgments about the legitimacy or possibility of certain definitions The good is 2Propositions describing the phenomena of moral experience and their causes 3Exhortations to moral virtue 4Ethical judgments x is good Only the first ofthe 4 classes really constitutes ethical philosophy The propositions in the second category should be assigned to psychology or social science The propositions of the third category are merely expressions of emotion incentives to action As such they do not belong either to science or to philosophy It is not clear to what category the propositions ofthe fourth category belong But it is clear that they do not belong to a strictly philosophical treatise on ethics However a philosophical ethics should explain to which category they belong ARGUMENT AGAINST NATURALISTIC ETHICS Subjectivism and utilitarianism are both naturalistic in that they explain the concept of good in terms of empirical fact that is they both believe that statements of value can be translated into statements of empirical fact Argument vssub39ectivism It is possible to say without contradiction that some action is both desirable to most and yet wrong It is possible to say without contradiction that some action is both desirable to the individual and yet wrong The phrases x is good and x is desirable cannot be equivalent Argument vs Utilitarianism It is possible to say without contradiction that some action is both maximally pleasant to all involved The phrases x is good and x is maximally pleasing cannot be equivalent Statements of value cannot be translated into statements of empirical fact That is The validity of ethical judgements is not determined by the felicific tendencies of actions any more than by the nature of people s feelings but that it must be regarded as absolute or intrinsic and not empirically calculable 219 Our contention is simply that in our language sentences which contain normative ethical symbols are not equivalent to sentences which express psychological propositions or indeed empirical propositions of any kind 219 Distinction between normative and descriptive use of symbols CONSEQUENCES OF ARGUMENT AGAINST NATURALISTIC ETHICS Assumed Premise Either naturalist or absolutist ethics must be true Naturalist subjectivism and utilitarian ethics have been shown to be false Absolutist ethics must be true ARGUMENT AGAINST ABSOLUTISTINTUITIONIST ETHICS Absolutist ethics requires that the apprehension of right and wrong occur through some kind of moral intuition since the normal faculties of apprehension only work on empirically This would require a form of rationalism that is if some knowledge lntuitions are different for different people If statements of value are evaluable only through some form of moral intuition then they must be unverifiable Statements of value are synthetic Absolutist or intuitionist ethics cannot be acceptable to radical empiricism because to accept it is to accept a form of rationalism DEFINITION OF EMOTIVIST ETHICS We begin by admitting that fundamental ethical concepts are unanalysable inasmuch as there is no criterion by which one can test the validity of the judgements in which they occur 220 Moral judgments are expressions of emotion towards an action we may define the meaning of the various ethical words in terms both of the different feelings they are ordinarily taken to express and also the different responses which they are calculated to approach ARGUMENTS FOR EMOTIVIST ETHICS 0 Can account for the unalysability of ethical concepts 0 Can account for the lack of verifiability of apparently synthetic statements if a sentence doesn t say anything then it can t say something either true or false 0 Can resist the standard criticism of orthodox subjectivism 0 Can explain away Moore s criticism EMOTIVIST ETHICS VS ORTHODOX SUBJECTIVISM Emotivism Denies that statements of value express genuine propositions that moral judgments have to contain assertions at all Stealing yuckl Orthodox Sub39ectivism Holds that statements of value express genuine propositions concerning emotions I feel badly about stealing It is possible to contradict them You don t feel badly about stealing STANDARD OBJECTION TO ORTHODOX SUBJECTIVISM The validity of ethical judgements is not determined by the nature of the author s feelings 222 THE EMOTIVIST RESPONSE TO THE STANDARD OBJECTION Our theory does not imply that the existence of any feelings is a necessary and sufficient condition of the validity of an ethical judgement It implies that ethical judgements have no validity 222 MOORE S OBJECTION TO SUBJECTIVISM lf statements of value such as X is wrong are merely statements about the speaker s feelings then it would be impossible for there to be moral disputes Ayer s emotivism appears to be susceptible to this criticism because it cannot account for moral disputes either THE EXISTENCE OF MORAL DISPUTES Subjectivism claims that moral judgments such as X is good are actually expressions of personal taste of liking Stealing yuckl Stealing yayl are not moral disputes On the subjectivist view two people who are apparently disagreeing in that one is saying that X good and the other is saying that it is not are not in fact disagreeing since they arejust expressing a like or dislike for X Thus it would seem to be impossible to have a moral dispute Emotivism claims that Stealing is wrong doesn t express any genuine proposition but only evinces emotion Emotivism can t account for moral disputes We appear to have moral disputes all the time Subjectivism and emotivism must be wrong THE RESPONSE OF EMOTIVISM TO MOORE S OBJECTION What appear to be moral disputes are not actually disputes about value but rather disputes about empirical fact Whether act A belongs to type X is a question of fact When we do agree on the facts but still cannot come to agreement we abandon the attempt to convince him by argument Given that a man has certain moral principles we argue that he must in order to be consistent react morally to certain things in a certain way What we do not and cannot argue about is the validity ofthese moral principles We merely praise or condemn them in light of our own feelings 224 EXPLANATION OF THE MORAL IMPERATIVE AND EUDAEMONISTIC Kant There is a realm of value because we have the fundamental experience of should the experience of conscience We only have the experience of should because we have been raised by our parents and our society to feartheir rejection if we do not comply with what they want Our society reinforces what it perceives to be in its best interests Their essential defect is that they treat propositions which refer to the causes and attributes of our ethical feelings as ifthey were definitions of ethical concepts And thus they fail to recognize that ethical concepts are pseudoconcepts and consequently indefinable 225 CONSEQUENCES OF RADICAL EMPIRICISM the only information which we can legitimately derive from the study of our aesthetic and moral experiences is information about our own mental and physical makeup How Ayer s view is Empiricist All knowledgeevery factual proposition sense experience MAIN CHALLENGE FOR EMPIRICISM Explaining necessary truths Hume Whether skepticism is inevitable Explaining the Necessity of the Truths of Mathematics Option 1 Not necessary truths despite universal conviction Option 2 Not factual despite their ability to surprise CONTRAST WITH RATIONALISM Thought vs experience can be a source of knowledge even more certain MILL S VIEW OF THE TRUTHS OF MATHEMATICS Mathematical truths are not necessarily true Inductive generalizations with very large sample sizes AYER S RESPONSE TO MILL The statements of mathematic are necessary and certain They are independent in that they do not owe their validity to empirical verification What we are discussing when we say that logical an d mathematical truths are know independently of experience is not a historical question concerning the way in which these truths were originally discovered not a psychological question concerning the way in which each of us comes to learn them but an epistemological question Distinguishing 3 guestions Historical Psychological Epistemological AYER S ACCOUNT OF THE TRUTHS OF MATHEMATICS The truths of mathematics are necessarily true because they are analytic or tautologies The principles of logic and mathematics are true universally simply because we never allow them to be anything else because we cannot abandon them without contradicting ourselves without sinning against the rules which govern the use of language 203 The criterion of an analytic proposition is that its validity should follow simply from the definition ofthe terms contained in it and this condition is fulfilled by the propositions of pure mathematics 207 We have already explained how it is that these analytic propositions are necessary and certain We saw that the reason why they cannot be confuted in experience is that they do not make any assetion about the empirical world They simply record our determination to use words in a certain fashion We cannot deny them without infringing the conventions which are presupposed by our very denial208 AYER S CRITIQUE OF KANT S ANALYTICSYNTHETIC DISTINCTION Psychological vs Logical IN WHAT SENSE MATH INVOLVES DISCOVERY We see then that there is a sense in which analytic propositions do give us new knowledge They call attention to linguistic usages of which we might not othenvise be conscious and they reveal unsuspected implications in our assertions and beliefs 205 May Queens are a relic oftree worship May Queens exist in England A relic oftree worship exists in England The use of the tautology does indeed enable me to make this concealed assertion explicit But it does not provide me with any new knowledge in the sense in which empirical evidence that the election of May Queens had been forbidden by law would provide me with new knowledge The reason math and logic can surprise us is because of the limitations of our reason WHY MATH HAS NOT BEEN SEEN AS TAUTOLOGICAL Traditional logic spoke ofjudgments rather than propositions Traditional logic introduced irrelevant psychological questions Logic is actually concerned with the formal relations between classes Geometry appears to be about space And just as the validity of an analytic proposition is independent ofthe nature ofthe external world so it is independent ofthe nature of our minds
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