• ChrisH
    151
    And what if what people want to convey are certain "truths" about how interactions in a society should function?Echarmion

    I'm sure many people do want to convey their beliefs about moral "truths".
  • tim wood
    3.4k
    To ascribe abstract laws to Ethics ignores the particulars of any given situation.thewonder
    Sets the ground. If murder isn't wrong, then on what basis is Jacek (Jack?) held. On what grounds is he in any jeopardy? And crime and penalty are different "departments" of justice. Usually - in the US - the trial establishes guilt, then the judge imposes a penalty. Usually the judge's business is to look for mitigating, exculpatory, or even more incriminating information. There was a period of mandatory sentencing - I think it's passed - but clearly in use it was itself unjust in many cases.

    A methodology that proceeds from that "murder is wrong" could be quite interesting.thewonder
    Not sure what you mean by "methodology," but I'm thinking that law fits that bill. And any law I've ever read has a definitions section.

    That murder is wrong is trivially assumed by everyone, I think - almost everyone. At issue here is whether the non-cognitivist view is nonsense. I think it is.

    Btw, I neglected to credit EricH for a very graceful post above (I meant to, but my response got away from me): nice post!
  • tim wood
    3.4k
    Had you just finished reading Les Misérables, you might suggest that it is fine to steal if you need to do so in order to survive.thewonder

    Not "fine." But perhaps exculpatory information. There is a principle, "necessity knows (alt. "has") no law." That does not make the theft not a theft, but places the thief outside the bounds of ordinary consideration - maybe.
  • thewonder
    412

    My point is that you have only identified an exception to the rule. Murder is an extraordinary case. What we can infer proceeding from that "murder is wrong" can not necessarily be applied throughout all of Ethics.

    I'm suggesting that all of Ethics is "outside the bounds of ordinary consideration". Every event is a particularity.

    Edit: That you can say that "murder is wrong" does not necessarily invalidate the Non-Cognitivist position. That it happens to be the case that when someone states that "murder is wrong" can be proven to be 'true' abstractly does not necessarily mean that when they make such a claim that they are not making a personal appeal.

    I do, however, think that it is possible to simply state that "murder is wrong" abstractly. The distinctions are not how I would choose to wage a debate concerning Ethics.

    Edit 2: To answer the original question posed by Wittgenstein, I do think that it is possible to assign truth values to Ethical statements, but don't think that it is useful to do so.
  • Mww
    1.2k


    Good.

    Noumena notwithstanding. Your argument stands on its own with no need for even the idea of them.

    Carry on.
  • EricH
    72
    That murder is wrong is trivially assumed by everyone, I think - almost everyone. At issue here is whether the non-cognitivist view is nonsense. I think it is.tim wood

    Given that "murder is wrong is trivially assumed by everyone", does it make any practical difference in the real world if the reasons for a person thinking that murder is wrong are based in a strong sense of personal morality - i.e. if they are non-cognitivists? I think not.
  • tim wood
    3.4k
    does it make any practical difference in the real world if the reasons for a person thinking that murder is wrong are based in a strong sense of personal morality - i.e. if they are non-cognitivists? I think not.EricH

    Unless they're on a jury - or in almost any other position in which the quality of their moral compass and moral thinking matters. Try to think of an area of concern wherein it does not matter! How about the young adult drug dealer selling the local schoolchildren drugs? You should hear how they can rationalize and minimize all day long. Of course our non-cognitivists, while they might not like it, have made it completely clear that to characterize it in any way is just a personal judgment - and it might well be that too, but it is also wrong.

    As a coda - my coda - to this discussion, ask yourself not if murder is wrong, but rather consider some actual murder you know about and ask yourself if that was wrong - and these days we all know about so many! Not as your personal feeling, but in whatever passes in you for a larger sense. Or ask yourself if anyone did anything wrong in the Holocaust. After all, that was only murder, granted around 8.5 million times over, and pretty much the most wrong and evil thing that history speaks of. Matter of opinion? Or "strong personal feeling"? Or something more?

    Please no replies; I've nothing more to add.
  • thewonder
    412
    ...wherein tim wood invokes the Holocaust and then decides that there will be no further discussion.

    So, for everyone else, does Non-Cognitivism deny that Ethical value judgements can be made? I think that it might, and don't necessarily agree, but do agree with the general sentiment of the critique of that is being made.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    So, for everyone else, does Non-Cognitivism deny that Ethical value judgements can be made?thewonder

    No, not at all. It's simply that ethical judgments are not true or false under noncognitivism.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    Not as your personal feeling, but in whatever passes in you for a larger sense.tim wood

    What the heck would that be referring to? Whatever "passes in me for a larger sense"??
  • thewonder
    412

    You are correct. I was thinking of Emotivism.
  • thewonder
    412

    tim wood has left the discussion Terrapin Station.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k


    Emotivism is a species of noncognitivism.
  • thewonder
    412

    I am aware of that. I just conflated the terms when I made that post.
  • Echarmion
    991
    Would you say they could proceed from (or not include) premises that are not moral stances?Terrapin Station

    I am not sure. The question is whether it's possible to avoid an is-ought-fallacy on the one side and an infinite regress of moral stances on the other.

    My intuition is that they proceed from a sort of moral axiom, which would be some principle of reciprocity (similar to the golden rule).
  • EricH
    72
    Please no replies; I've nothing more to addtim wood

    If you feel you have nothing more to say, that's OK. But to request that no one replies? I don't think that is in the spirit of this forum. Just say "I give you the last word". I have done this.

    Unless they're on a jury - or in almost any other position in which the quality of their moral compass and moral thinking matters.tim wood

    I would not serve on a jury if there was any chance that the death penalty could be applied.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    I would not serve on a jury if there was any chance that the death penalty could be applied.EricH

    I would just never agree to vote "guilty" in that case.

    There are many situations where I'd never agree that someone is guilty due to not agreeing with laws/sentencing/etc. I strongly believe in jury nullification. Of course, not everyone does, but at least in the U.S. the jury's verdict has to be unanimous.
  • S
    11.8k
    Yes, we can assign truth-values to moral statements. Why not? The emotivist argument is simply a bad argument. No, I don't simply mean, "Boo!" or "Yay!", although yes, they are typically representative of the related sentiment.
  • Magnus Anderson
    336
    Yes. Anything else implies murder is not wrong. Any takers on that?tim wood

    "Murder is wrong" is a statement that is either true or false only if you assume that it has truth value. If it does not then the statement is neither true nor false. So you're wrong.

    It is this assumption that is the subject of this thread.
    What have you done to prove its validity?
  • Magnus Anderson
    336
    Every statement that says that some portion of reality is such and such has truth value i.e. it is either true or false.

    After all, truth is a belief that corresponds to reality.

    Even statements that merely express one's personal preferences have truth value: either one has the stated preferences or one does not.

    "I like cake" expresses a personal preference of mine that I either have (which would make it true) or that I don't (which would make it false.)

    The real subject of this thread then is concerned with language i.e. what moral statements actually mean.

    According to emotivists, moral statements express no more than one's personal preferences. According to me, in most cases that is not true.

    When most people say "Killing people is wrong" they are not merely saying that they don't want people to be killed. Rather, they are saying that society cannot survive if people kill each other.

    In most cases, "X is wrong" is equivalent to "X is something that would make it difficult or impossible for us to attain our goals".
  • S
    11.8k
    I believe you would assert that the statement "Murder is wrong" is a true statement.
    — EricH

    Yes. Anything else implies murder is not wrong. Any takers on that? That is, that can make the case?
    tim wood

    The case has been around for some time, it just isn't convincing enough. They definitely have a truth-value, whatever that may be. Anyone who thinks otherwise I would put down to a result of misinterpretation.
12345Next
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.