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PHI 192 (3)
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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHI 192
Professor
Ben Bradley
Semester
Spring

Description
J.L. Mackie Reading: The Subjectivity of Values PHI 192 Intro: • Mackie supports error theory o The view that all positive moral claims are mistaken • He sees all moral talk being based on a false assumption: that there are objective moral values o This error infects the entire system of morality Article: Moral Skepticism: • There are no moral values o Includes moral goodness, rightness, wrongness, duty, obligation, an action’s being rotten and contemptible and aesthetics • Can only be proven via the result of error theory, not through an analytic approach • Supported by two main kinds of arguments: the argument from relativity and the argument from queerness The Argument from Relativity • The premise is the well-known variation in moral codes from one society to another, and from one period to another and also the difference in moral beliefs between different groups and classes within a complex community o May indirectly support second order subjectivism: radical differences between first order moral judgments make it difficult to treat those judgments as objective truths o The mere fact that disagreements exist doesn’t prove that there is no objective truth in morals • unlike scientific disagreement, that is fought from speculative inferences or hypotheses based on inadequate evidence, disagreements about moral codes reflects people’s adherence to, and participation in, different ways of life • “People approve of monogamy because they participate in monogamous way of life rather than participating in a monogamous way of life because they approve of monogamy “ • The argument of relativity has some force because the actual variations in moral codes are more readily explained by the hypotheses that they reflect ways of life than by the hypotheses that they express perceptions of objective values • Counter to the argument from relativity: o Objective validity should not be claimed for specific moral rules or codes, but for very general basic principles which are recognized, at least implicitly to some extent in all society o Such general principles can be married with differing concrete circumstances, different existing social patterns or different preferences, which will beget different specific moral rules • The counter to the counter (defense of argument from relativity) o People judge that some things are good or bad and others are right or wrong, not only because they exemplify some general principle for which widespread implicit acceptance should be claimed, but because something about those things arouses certain responses immediately in them though they would arouse radically and irresolvably different responses in other
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