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PostSubject: Moral Skepticism   Sat Jan 03, 2009 12:50 pm

What do people here think about when the subject moral skepticism comes to mind?

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"Moral skepticism" denotes a class of metaethical theories all members of which entail that no one has any moral knowledge. Many moral skeptics also make the stronger, modal, claim that moral knowledge is impossible. Moral skepticism is particularly opposed to moral realism: the view that there are knowable, mind-independent moral truths.

Defenders of some form of moral skepticism include Ludwig Wittgenstein[citation needed], J. L. Mackie (1977), Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Joyce (2001), Michael Ruse, Joshua Greene, Richard Garner, and the psychologist James Flynn. Strictly speaking, Gilbert Harman (1975) argues in favor of a kind of moral relativism, not moral skepticism. However, he has influenced some contemporary moral skeptics.



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Moral skepticism divides into three subclasses: moral error theory (or moral nihilism), epistemological moral skepticism, and noncognitivism [1]. All three of these theories share the same conclusions, which are: (a) we are never justified in believing that moral claims (claims of the form "state of affairs x is good," "action y is morally obligatory," etc.) are true and, even more so (b) we never know that any moral claim is true. However, each "gets" to (a) and (b) by different routes.

Moral error theory holds that we do not know that any moral claim is true because (i) all moral claims are false, (ii) we have reason to believe that all moral claims are false, and so, because (iii) we are not justified in believing any claim we have reason to deny, we are therefore not justified in believing any moral claims.

Epistemological moral skepticism is a subclass of theory the members of which include Pyrrhonian moral skepticism and dogmatic moral skepticism. All members of epistemological moral skepticism share two things in common: first they acknowledge that we are unjustified in believing any moral claim, and second, they are agnostic on whether (i) is true (i.e. on whether all moral claims are false).

Pyrrhonian moral skepticism holds that the reason we are unjustified in believing any moral claim is that it is irrational for us to believe either that any moral claim is true or that any moral claim is false. Thus, in addition to being agnostic on whether (i) is true, Pyrrhonian moral skepticism denies (ii).
Dogmatic moral skepticism, on the other hand, affirms (ii) and cites (ii)'s truth as the reason we are unjustified in believing any moral claim.
Finally, Noncognitivism holds that we can never know that any moral claim is true because moral claims are incapable of being true or false (they are not truth-apt). Instead, moral claims are imperatives (e.g. "Don't steal babies!"), expressions of emotion (e.g. "stealing babies: Boo!"), or expressions of "pro-attitudes".


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Moral error theory is a position characterized by its commitment to two propositions: (i) all moral claims are false and (ii) we have reason to believe that all moral claims are false. The most famous moral error theorist is J. L. Mackie, who defended the metaethical view in Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (1977). Mackie has been interpreted as giving two arguments for moral error theory.

The first argument people attribute to Mackie [2], holds that moral claims imply motivation internalism (the doctrine that "It is necessary and a priori that any agent who judges that one of his available actions is morally obligatory will have some (defeasible) motivation to perform that action" [3]). Because motivation internalism is false, however, so too are all moral claims.

The other argument often attributed to Mackie [3] maintains that any moral claim (e.g. "Killing babies is wrong") entails a correspondent "reasons claim" ("one has reason not to kill babies"). Put another way, if "killing babies is wrong" is true then everybody has a reason to not kill babies. This includes the psychopath who takes great pleasure from killing babies, and is utterly miserable when he does not have their blood on his hands. But, surely, (if we assume that he will suffer no reprisals) this psychopath has every reason to kill babies, and no reason not to do so. All moral claims are thus false.



All versions of Epistemological Moral Skepticism hold that we are unjustified in believing any moral proposition. However, in contradistinction to moral error theory, epistemological moral skeptical arguments for this conclusion do not include the premise that "all moral claims are false." For example, Michael Ruse [4] gives what Richard Joyce [3] calls an "evolutionary argument" for the conclusion that we are unjustified in believing any moral proposition. He argues that we have evolved to believe moral propositions because our believing the same enhances our genetic fitness (makes it more likely that we will reproduce successfully). However, our believing these propositions would enhance our fitness even if they were all false (they would make us more cooperative, etc.). Thus, our moral beliefs are unresponsive to evidence; they are analogous to the beliefs of a paranoiac. As a paranoiac is plainly unjustified in believing his conspiracy theories, so too are we unjustified in believing moral propositions. We therefore have reason to jettison our moral beliefs.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_skepticism
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Skepticism   Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:27 pm

Morality does not exist in the abstract sense. It's a series of expectations human kind has made based on mutual consent agreements of what forms of conduct were the most enjoyable. We establish societies and particular qualities of life on the basis of large scale moral assumptions which tend to work consistently because people have the propensity to enjoy similar enough life styles. Anything which says one life style which does not interrupt other life styles is immoral is blatantly unjustified, but moral claims which preserve reasonable human preferences are beneficial and as authoritative as is necessary.
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Skepticism   Mon Jan 05, 2009 10:00 am

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Lucretia says:Morality does not exist in the abstract sense.

Actually I would argue that is where it only exists as it is mostly a superstition or personified belief that doesn't correspond to reality like the word equality and so on.


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It's a series of expectations human kind has made based on mutual consent agreements of what forms of conduct were the most enjoyable.

Of course mutual consent agreements can't be generalized for the entirety of humanity since we have many social activities that just throws all of that against the fence in disregard.



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We establish societies and particular qualities of life on the basis of large scale moral assumptions which tend to work

For whom? ( Have you noticed how that becomes a important question in these sort of discussions?)


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consistently because people have the propensity to enjoy similar enough life styles.

So long as they get money that talks, right?

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Anything which says one life style which does not interrupt other life styles is immoral is blatantly unjustified, but moral claims which preserve reasonable human preferences are beneficial and as authoritative as is necessary.

I'm one of those people who believe having any objective knowledge of morality is completely unjustified in that moral knowledge is impossible to know in the first place.

Now what?

Where do you get your moral knowledge from? How do you know it?

Where does it come from?

Do you know it absolutely or is it just some subjective thing created and embraced because you find it useful?

But even in utility or interpretation of what is pragmatic you are still left in a subjective whirlwind of interpretation.
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