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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Most Moral Subjectivists Aren't Serious

Nihilism is really the right conclusion to draw from moral irrealism. But if you push most moral subjectivists, you will find that they don't really believe what they claim.

For instance, test someone who says, "We each define our own morality" by saying, "OK, then it would be fine for me, if I could get the votes, to pass a law making any non-procreative sex a capital crime?"

"WHAT?! You don't get to enforce your morality on me!"

"Why not? In the morality I defined for myself, it is perfectly OK for me to do so."

"But, but..."

What they really meant is that they think some things traditionally morally prescribed (such as, say, pre-marital sex) aren't really morally wrong at all. But since they have failed to convince everyone of this, they say, "Hey, you get your morality, and I get mine."

But they clearly think it is objectively wrong for someone to outlaw the sexual practices they enjoy.

5 comments:

  1. I would think there are relatively few moral subjectivists. Probably most people that come across to you as subjectivists don't actually think that people can make up their own morality - but rather than morality is collectively constructed in some way.

    At least I hope there aren't many moral subjectivists out there! That does sound like it would be a pretty crazy world to live in.

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    1. "I would think there are relatively few moral subjectivists. Probably most people that come across to you as subjectivists don't actually think that people can make up their own morality - but rather than morality is collectively constructed in some way."

      OK, so GROUPS make up their own morality: that is just moral subjectivism with "we" as the subject instead of "I."

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    2. But the implications are different when you go from "I" to "we". Morals impact human social relations. "I"-subjectivism is as crazy as you point out here precisely because it ignores the fact that morals regulate our social relations.

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  2. I don't understand why you think that a belief that morality is subjectively based also implies that the holder of this belief should just passively accept the rights of others to impose their morality on them.

    It seems perfectly consistent to believe that everyone has a subjectively-derived morality AND be prepared to align with others to enforce (or resist) areas of "morality" where these is common ground.

    The ability to enforce a non-procreational sex-ban has nothing to do with whether or not the believe that the ban is justified is grounded in objective or subjective morality and everything to do with the political reality facing the would-be enforcer.

    Most societies seem to have found enough common ground amongst their members to have agreement that such things as serial killing are wrong - but does this makes it an objectively-derived moral tenet or just a commonly-held subjective one.

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    1. "I don't understand why you think that a belief that morality is subjectively based also implies that the holder of this belief should just passively accept the rights of others to impose their morality on them."

      There is a good reason you don't understand why I think this, rob. It is because I don't think it, nor have I ever said anything remotely like it.

      "The ability to enforce a non-procreational sex-ban has nothing to do with whether or not the believe that the ban is justified is grounded in objective or subjective morality and everything to do with the political reality facing the would-be enforcer."

      Once again, rob, I must ask wtf? Where did I talk about the ability to enforce some law having anything to do with objective morality? The Nazis were plenty able to enforce anti-Jewish laws. At this point, you might stop and ask yourself, "Why do I keep feeling the need to make things up and put them in Gene's mouth?"


      So, rob, when there was a widespread consensus in the American South that slavery was fine and plenty of ability to enforce that consensus, would you then be just fine with that situation?

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