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Moral Objectivity - Hume

It seems you are sticking with objectivism. Many objectivists have argued that their view is consistent with widespread moral disagreement. One point they make is that much moral disagreement can be explained by other underlying disagreements.

For instance, two people who agree that it is wrong to kill innocent people might nonetheless disagree about whether abortion is wrong if they disagree on the non-moral question of whether the foetus is a person.

Consider now a different worry about objectivism. In the 18th century, David Hume wrote:

“Take any action allowed to be vicious: Wilful murder, for instance. Examine it in all lights, and see if you can find that matter of fact, or real existence, which you call vice. In which-ever way you take it, you find only certain passions, motives, volitions and thoughts. There is no other matter of fact in the case. The vice entirely escapes you, as long as you consider the object” (A Treatise of Human Nature, 3.1.i).

The worry here seems to be that rightness and wrongness aren’t properties we can observe. More generally, it seems that rightness and wrongness cannot be discovered through scientific investigation. Hume and others have thought that this shows there are no objective facts about right and wrong.


Do you agree with Hume?

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