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PHLA11H3 Lecture Notes - Ethical Subjectivism, Moral Nihilism, Session 9

Course Code
Kelin Emmett

of 3
Ethics Session 9
beginning of unit two
philosophical terrain and issues
note: focus of next classes
no objective facts about morality
denying morality
three arguments against morality
1. nihilist
there is no right or wrong
2. ethical subjectivism
opinion based (right and wrong)
3. ethical relativism
culture decides on right and wrong
right and wrong does not exist
two versions of nihilism
1. error theory
2. non-cognitivism
error theory
talking about moral things is a mistake
making claims
trying to say something is true
describing false properties and claims
religion and atheist analogy
an atheist would say that religion does not exist
denies moral reality
views moral reality as an error
not trying to get to the truth
do not be fooled by the surface structure of a sentence
moral statements are often expressing feelings
expression of feelings
cannot be true or false
cannot be true or false
moral claims do not say anything about the world
there are no moral properties
a sense of good or bad does not exist
nihilist version of skepticism
claim of non-nihilists
morality exists
claim of nihilists
moral does not exist
subjectivism and relativism
moral truths exist
basis of morality
personal opinion
depends on your beliefs and feelings
basis of morality
depends on the community
has objective truths that do not depend on feelings
three rejections to objectivism
1. nihilism
2. subjectivism
3. relativism
issues with moral skepticism
without objectivism, cannot make sense of morality
argument set
cannot be wrong about morality
it is based on personal opinion
moral error
does not account for certain situations
ex. murdering children
culture (or society) cannot be wrong about morality
if killing first-borns is acceptable in society
relativism maintains that it is morally acceptable
leaves room for individual error
an individual who does not agree with society is wrong
not holding the same view as society
criticizing subjectivism and relativism
can only make internal criticisms
ex. inconsistency
cannot criticize fundamental beliefs
note: seems to be fine to make the criticism that the fundamental beliefs are not actually
true if there are errors within fundamental beliefs that are believed to be true