Moral Skepticism Essay

Moral Skepticism Essay-85
But that still does not answer the question of how the of incompatible moral philosophies providing dialectical justifications for moral propositions is best explained as follows: (1) there are no objective facts about fundamental moral propositions, such that (2) it is possible to construct apparent dialectical justifications for moral propositions, even though (3) the best explanation for these theories is not that their dialectical justifications are sound but that they answer to the psychological needs of philosophers.And the reason it is possible to construct “apparent” dialectical justification for differing moral propositions is because, given the diversity of psychological needs of persons (including philosophers), it is always possible to find people for whom the premises of these dialectical justifications are acceptable.

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If the former, is utility a matter of preference-satisfaction (as the economists often believe) or preference satisfaction under idealized circumstances—or is it, rather, unconnected to the preferences of agents, actual or idealized, but instead a matter of realizing the human essence or enjoying some ‘objective’ goods?

And perhaps a criterion of right action isn’t even the issue, perhaps the issue is cultivating dispositions of character conducive to living a good life.

We can agree with Peter Railton that we lack “canons of induction so powerful that experience would, in the limit, produce convergence on matters of fact among all epistemic agents, no matter what their starting points” (“Moral Realism,” [1986]), and still note that there exists a remarkable cross-cultural consensus among theorists about fundamental physical laws, principles of chemistry, and biological explanations, as well as mathematical truths, while moral philosophers, to this very day, find no common ground on foundational principles even within the West, let alone cross-culturally.

Moral realists—who, for purposes here, will just mean those who deny skepticism about moral facts—have developed a variety of “defusing explanations” (I borrow the phrase from John Doris and Alexandra Plakias) to block the abductive inference from apparently intractable moral disagreement to skepticism about moral facts.

The real significance of the claims of moral philosophers is “what they tell us about those who make them” for they are “a sign-language of the affects” (BGE 187), betraying the psychological needs of those who make them.

How do these considerations, elliptical as some of them are, support a skeptical conclusion about the objective existence of moral facts?

But, then, what is the force of the claim that “every morality can be dialectically justified”?

It must obviously be that every morality can have the of being dialectically justified, either because its logical invalidity is not apparent or, more likely in this instance, because its premises, while apparently acceptable, are not true.

Nowhere do we find lifelong Kantians suddenly (or even gradually) converting to Benthamite utilitarianism, or vice versa.

Nietzsche thus locates disagreement at the heart of the most sophisticated moral philosophies of the West, among philosophers who very often share lots of other beliefs and practices.


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