Plaffelvohfen wrote: ↑
March 15th, 2019, 11:48 am
It's not a fallacy, it's a problem, a good one sure, but it still can be answered.
Well, that depends upon one's epistemological view of the issue.
For example, Jackson's moral functionalism offer compelling counter-examples. Putnam argues that the distinction between fact and value is not as absolute as Hume envisioned and that it can be said that this "is/ought" problem is just denying ethical realism, excluding values from the domain of facts.
As I mentioned before, it is helpful (and indeed essential) not to conflate values (good/bad) with moral precepts (right/wrong), to lump deontology (theories of moral rules) and axiology (theories of value) together. They are separate and distinct concepts and require separate analysis.
is a "pseudo-property" imputed to a thing (which can by anything) by a moral agent. It denotes the desirability of that thing to that agent. "Good" and "bad" are value terms, the former denoting something having positive value, a thing deemed desirable and worth seeking by an agent, the latter something having negative value, a thing deemed undesirable and worth avoiding. The measure of value (or disvalue) is given by what that agent would give up to procure (or avoid) that thing.
Values are inherently relative to agents, but value claims
can be objective and cognitive, provided a valuer is specified. E.g., "The value of x
" can be determined empirically by observing P's
behavior with respect to x
. So there are indeed value "facts."
A value proposition which does not specify, or at least imply, a valuer is non-cognitive, and meaningless.
Since values are inherently relative to agents, they cannot serve as the bases of a universal, objective set of moral rules. The latter must be consistent with natural facts about humans and human societies that are objective and universal, but none of those facts by themselves can give answers to whether a given act by moral agent is (morally) right or wrong. Churchland's efforts to elucidate primal instincts that give rise to typical primate behaviors provide no answers to whether Alfie's killing of Bruno was right or wrong. Instincts or propensities honed over a million years of primate evolution may well elicit behaviors that are wrong, per a sound moral theory.
A simple solution is through the addition of a goal to the formulation. The problem can therefore be bypassed with a simple if: "If you want to achieve goal X, you should do Y which has been shown to lead to X."
Yes, indeed. As I've argued elsewhere on this forum, once a goal of a moral theory has been agreed upon, then the "oughts" in the principles and rules developed become instrumental "oughts," (e.g., "If you wish to drive a nail, you ought to get a hammer"), not mysterious "moral oughts."
But that move does not eliminate the need for at least one normative premise, or axiom, upon which to build the theory. That goal itself will have normative content.
It all comes down to whether one thinks it's possible to have an adequate working definition of "moral" or not . . .
I agree. My definition of "morality" is, "A set of principles, and rules deriving therefrom, for governing interactions between agents in a moral field (a social setting)."