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The University of Southampton
PhilosophyPart of Humanities

Moral Objectivity - Subjectivism

A different kind of non-objectivist view is subjectivism. Subjectivists, like the 20th century philosopher Gilbert Harman, hold that facts about right and wrong depend on the individual subject.

On this view, judgments about right and wrong are a bit like judgments about tastiness. When you judge something tasty, you mean that it’s tasty to you. Similarly, on the subjectivist view, when you judge that something is wrong, you mean that it is wrong, by your standards.

One problem for subjectivism concerns disagreement. Suppose that you think that eating meat is wrong and your friend thinks that it’s okay. On the subjectivist view, what you are thinking is that eating meat is wrong by your standards, and what your friend is thinking is that eating meat is okay by their standards. But notice that these judgments do not conflict – they could both be true. So it looks like, on the subjectivist view, you and your friend don’t really disagree after all. But surely moral disagreement is possible!


Does this lead you to reject subjectivism?

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