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October 7:9.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Tom Hurka

October 7/ 9, 2013 Subjectivity of Values Mackie ( Hume/ Moore ) vs. Negal We‟ll continue with a slightly different take on the issues in the Mackie selection from 1975, following Hume but with slight twist, and then non-naturalist reply from Nagel; not so different from Moore/Hume debate, but more recent and with slightly different emphases Mackie is roughly on the same side as Hume Similarities and difference Both deny moral objectivity but Hume thinks they are just attitudes but Mackie thinks they just beliefs that are true but they don‟t actually exist (like a unicorn)  He‟s like Hume in denying that there are objective moral truths; pp. 233, 234; he too rejects Moore‟s non-naturalism  BUT not as a matter of the meaning of moral sentences or of what we intend to do when we utter them; the expressivists claimed that in saying „x is right” we are merely expressing an attitude and know we‟re doing that; but Mackie thinks that‟s not true: he thinks we believe those judgements can be objectively true; 243, 244, 246 = error theory p. 247 (also 255) = so we project our attitudes but onto the world but these are false  Parallel with error theory about colour-properties, which claims that in saying “that apple is red” we‟re asserting that there is, on the surface of the apple, a colour-property just like the colour-property we sense in our minds; BUT in fact science shows that there‟s no such thing, just a tendency to reflect light of a certain frequency, so what we mean to say when we say “the apple is red” is simply false; p. 251 on projecting attitudes:  So Mackie‟s view is like expressivism in saying we are expressing attitudes in making moral judgements but says we don‟t know we‟re doing that Argument Summary: when we make moral judgements what we‟re really doing is just expressing attitudes BUT (twist to emotivism) we don‟t know we‟re doing that; we think we‟re ascribing non-natural properties of goodness or rightness (which is what Moore says) but these properties actually DON‟T exist. THERFORE, are moral judgements are all false by defect = error theory Mackie’s main arguments for his position against objectivity of value  Moral properties would have to have objective prescriptivity (would have to be both intrinsically motivating and simultaneously objective part of the world) BUT this is a queer idea since it seems to be incompatible with a science based understanding of what the world contains. = Combination between 2 earlier arguments we have seen: 1. The argument from relativity 2. The argument from queerness  Read pp. 248-49; this is a version of what I earlier called the argument from the  Scientific world view, about how Moorean non-natural properties don‟t fit into a scientific picture of the world; BUT Mackie‟s argument is also different; pp. 249-50 against logical positivists specific version of the argument, then (continuing) 250 on Form of the Good; what extra is being added here?  Mackie emphasizes the action-guiding nature of moral judgements, just like Hume; he thinks the traditional philosophical view and the everyday view is that moral judgements are both capable of being objectively true and also action-guiding; pp. 239, 245, then 250; “objective prescriptivity” as what characterizes moral properties on the traditional view and as what Mackie sees as primarily queer; „To Know Him is to Love Him‟  He‟s combining two arguments= argument from scientific world-view + argument from practicality/motivation: moral properties, on a Moore-type view, would have to be both objectively part of the world and intrinsically motivating, which no other objective properties are, and that‟s primarily what‟s queer about
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