Chapter 3: Subjectivism In Ethics
3.1 The Basic Idea of Ethical Subjectivism
- idea that our moral opinions are based on our feelings and nothing more.
- no such thing as “objective” right or wrong.
- some ppl homosexual, some not, neither good nor bad.
- someone says homosexuality is wrong = fact about their feelings, not
- saying Nazis killings evil = we have negative feelings about the killings.
3.2 The Evolution of the Theory
- in general:
- philosophical theory put forward in general terms.
-examined, defects found.
-some ppl impressed with defects = abandon theory.
- others revise original theory and remain confident.
- examination, revision process continues.
- theory of ethical subjectivism began as: “Morality is a matter of sentiment rather
- theory developed, became more sophisticated.
3.3 The 1 Stage: Simple Subjectivism
- simplest version:
- when person says something is morally good or bad, he/she approves or
disapproves of it (nothing more).
-“X is morally acceptable.”
- “X is right.”
- “X is good.”
- “X ought to be done.”
- the above all mean: “I (the speaker) approve of X.”
- many find simple subjectivism favorable.
- however, open to serious objections:
1. Cannot account for disagreement.
- homosexuality right + homosexuality wrong = disagreement.
- if simple subjectivism correct, no disagreement, therefore can’t be
2. Implies we are always right.
- we sometimes make mistakes about ethics.
- as long as someone is honestly expressing their feelings, their moral
judgment will always be correct.
- can’t be true, so simple subjectivism can’t be true.
- these arguments cause some to reject simple subjectivism, and some to revise. 3.4 The 2 Stage: Emotivism
- improved version called emotivism.
- language consists of fact-stating language, commands, and utterances.
- Emotivism: moral language not fact-stating, but attitude-stating.
- can have disagreement in beliefs = disagreement in attitude toward
- therefore answers 1 argument against simple subjectivism.
- simple subje