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Jl Mackie Ethics Inventing Right And Wrong Notes
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J.L. Mackie - Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong Chapter One: The Subjectivity of Values Moral scepticism
● There are no objective values (e.g. goodness, rightness, duty, obligation, and also aesthetic values)
○ this is a second order view of morality; a view of the status and nature of moral values and valuing
■ it is distinct and independent from a first order rejection of morality
■ it does not deny the difference between e.g. cowardice and bravery, but merely their (objective) difference in value Subjectivism
● This view of moral scepticism is equivalent to a form of second order moral subjectivism
○ the thesis is both negative and ontological; it is a denial of the existence of a certain class of things
■ this is distinct from linguistic or conceptual forms of subjectivism e.g. prescriptivism, although such forms generally presuppose this moral scepticism The multiplicity of second order qustions
● There are different types of second order moral questions - ontological, conceptual, linguistic etc
○ linguistic types are imperialist, and seek to conflate concept and fact
■ it is claimed that by discovering the meaning of moral terms, we can discover what e.g. goodness is
● this is false: we cannot understand perception by knowing what 'see' and 'hear' mean
● in the case of colours, popular usage treats them as real and existent, but enquiry shows them to be simply a relationship between light and object
○ there is a discrepancy between meaning and the nature of the object Is objectivity a real issue?
● R.M. Hare claims he doesn't understand what is meant by 'the objectivity of values'
○ imagine a world with objective values, and one without. in both worlds subjective belief is identical; they differ only in objective value. is there any difference between the two?
Hare says no
■ but there is a difference: in the first there is something to back up subjective concern, and in the other there is not
■ also, if objective values validated subjective concern, then we could acquire subjective concern simply by finding something out. this is not the case in the second world
● There is a difference between objectivity of value and intersubjective values, or simply universalizable values
○ presumably objective values would be universal, but the converse does not hold; it is not the case that all universalizable values are/would be objective
● There is also a distinction between objectivism (ontological) and descriptivism (meaning) - the view that the meanings of moral terms are purely descriptive (rather than evaluative, prescriptive)
○ descriptive theories can be non-objective e.g. Berkeley
○ objective theories can be non-descriptive e.g. European moral philosophy since Plato has
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