All that science IS is empirically grounded. Take evolution and its focus on reproduction and survival in the "selection" of genetically based traits. Along with this, take evolutionary biology, and organic chemistry, and neurology; and then take cosmology, and---the point is, all empirical investigations conspire to keep inquiry about all things grounded in, well, empiricism. Any of these you can mention have no truck with inquiry about the nature of ethics, and this is because ethics, what makes ethics what it is, which is value and caring, is not observable. So the empirical theory in question is really all such theories that, in there knowledge claims, think they can speak authoritatively about what ethics is essentially.GE Morton
I have no idea what "empirical theory" to which you refer there. The aim of a moral theory, however, is not to explain murder, or any other behavior, but to pronounce upon whether it is acceptable or not, and for what reasons. I suspect that the "reality" you have in mind is the emotional impact that act can have on some people, which would be your reason for deeming it unacceptable. Which is not a very good reason, because that impact will vary from person to person. Few murderers experience the angst of Raskolnikov.
As to the aim of moral theory, the determination as to what is acceptable or not must rest somewhere outside the determination itself, otherwise it would be an arbitrary determination. This would be value and caring, which are what ethics is all about, what good and bad behavior is all about. Value and caring are not, again, observable in their ethical aspect. One cannot "see" the good.
Moral wrongness is objectively based on caring and value, the various and sundry delights and miseries we face in the world. Subjectively,, I argue, it is grounded in knowledge of value in play (it hurts; it hurts and you know it) and the compassion or altruism that follows on this. I am, to get an idea of it, on the opposite end of John Rawls in his Justice As Fairness in that he bases moral justification on self interest. I am also against Kant's moral acts being bound to duty and utterly free of the motivation of desire. I believe that a moral action issues from moral sentiment that is a response to occasions value and caring are in play.They play a role in the motivation of certain acts. Other emotions motivate other acts. All acts have some emotional impetus. But whether any act is or is not moral is a separate question from its motivation, although motives and intentions can be mitigating factors when assigning praise or blame. But upon what then, in your view, is moral wrongness based?
Kant said some things that are laudable. Treating others as end rather than means; duty above desire; universalizing our maxims: these all having something important in them. Looking to Mill's utility does as well, but these beg the important question as to why anyone would want to moral at all. Why bother with even giving morality the time of day? Self interest? Granted, and lots of thought runs along this line.But why are my interests any different than anyonw else's? My reason for rejecting all of them is simple: value, what I called above the various sundry delights and miseries we face in the world, is what makes ethics at all important. Nothing valued, then nothing matters, then we can murder who we please, though we wouldn't because we wouldn't give a damn to do so. It is this caring and the value we care about, this is what ethics IS, it is the ontology of ethics, if you like, what is the irreducible actuality of me helping that little old lady across the street: She struggles, she is afraid, I see it, I can help; and the confusing ways we exchange value in a society occludes the simplicity of this. Once we accept this, and we see the existential grounding of ethics int eh material conditions around us, we discover the truth of ethics at its essence. The phenomenology of ethics.Well, that thesis certainly requires an argument. Many philosophers would disagree, and claim that a "true moral act" is one done from duty, not one done because the agent is emotionally disposed to do it.
All of this requires arguments, I know. I give a bit of my argument above. Here: I said, "An act of compassion and empathy is inherently right"You tend to use the term "inherent" frequently, and, in my view, somewhat carelessly. Your second sentence there (which is self-contradictory) again appears to presume that moral rightness is a function of motivations, and further presumes, a priori, that empathy and compassion are "moral" emotions. But as I said, those assumptions require arguments.
and I stand by it. Acting out of compassion and empathy is inherently right, and all the wrong that may follow from such an act does not alter the assessment of the rightness of the act. Utility and motivation are two entirely different things. Now you need a counter example to this, a case in which the act is so motivated, but it cannot be considered right as an act so motivated. best I can do is imagine person S who is lazy, dos not give proper consideration to a certain matter that is critical to the welfare of others. Then the moment comes, S observes the crisis that ensues from his own idleness and then acts according to the compassion and empathy that rises within. Regardless of the outcomes, can his actions be deemed right because he acted out of compassion? Yes.
Perhaps you can think of a better one. I am convinced bad actions that issue from good intentions should be separated in moral assessment.
And the moment a moral code becomes becomes explicit, it becomes dogma, which is good for moral guidance. It is a heuristic only. Real ethics comes in to play when values and caring collide in the world. I borrowed a shovel and carelessly broke it, but it was an old shovel andn if I buy a new one it would be over compensation, and so on and so on. What to do? I say, first one has to consider the other person, discovering thereby the true motivation, the authentic moral motivation. Second, work it out. Consult Kant, or Mill. think reall hard on the matter, for here you find the complexities of your own world in play, and this is complicated.Laws are explicit, but so are moral codes. The facts that there are many incompatible codes, that no code supplies answers to every possible moral question, and that all the nominal adherents of a code do not understand it or apply it correctly in every case, does not mean it is not explicit, articulable and communicable
I knew this would raise an eyebrow. I am already posting too long (but you did say things require arguments. And you were right about that). But I have said this before many times. There is no justification for our suffering in the world, and there must be. Period. This world is not ethically stand alone, nor is it hermeneutically stand alone, but ethics is a dimension of what we are that is powerful, imposing, profound, and it is upon us, the stricken, wretched, cancer ridden, diseased lot of us. And if we are getting better, then consider the tonnage of all that came before and lies elsewhere. I won't argue this one. It is intuitive, to think as entirely unaccountable even one ampng the multitudes who was thrown into existence in misery and hopelessness. As if the universe twelve or thirteen billion years ago at some point just decided to start torturing itself through the agencies of you, me and Joan of Arc; and all for nothing.Huh? Are you suggesting that the existence of suffering "existentially" demands that there exist an entity, or agency, to atone or compensate for it?
No, I beg to differ, If it were about "anything at all" then who would care to ask. But we do ask. Being is not what we are. Caring in Being is what we are. And we care about value-in-the-world. What is THAT doing here? God is an attempt to escape misery and realize happiness. Existence is a piece of useless metaphysical jargon.The real question is, "What is anything doing here at all?" "Why does anything exist?" "God" is our attempt to answer that question. But that answer just moves the question back one step.