Latest post of the previous page:
quite, and the more I look the less I like what I find; I suppose it is the pseudo-scientific nature of these meta-ethical theories which is annoying, all of them seeming to presuppose that there is some one analysis which applied to all moral judgments, whether considered or not, whether openly prescriptive or reflective. I like universal prescriptivism, though, as I said before. I do not think such an analysis rules out reasoning, though; you have said that you think ethics is a sort of mix of empathy and reasoning, and I don't see how the reasoning element comes in if it is purely subjective (or even intersubjective?)Emma Woolgatherer wrote: Oh yes, the more you look the more you find.
I suppose that I think it is impossible to show, as Mackie attempts to do, that no values can be true or false. It is not that I am a moral objectivist, whatever that is exactly (and Mackie does not, here anyway, define what he means by this); I don't think that statements about values can be objective in the way that empirical statements can in principle be because they cannot be verified, and I certainly agree with him that we do not have moral "faculties" of intuition which are somehow near-infallible guides to some crystal-clear objective morality. But does he really believe that the statement "it is wrong to break a promise without a strong reason to do so" is not actually true in some sense? How would he react if someone let him down by breaking an important promise they had made to him? Would he just brush it off by saying that a promise had no objective value? Somehow I doubt it. I know that he allows that we all behave as though there were moral facts, and he brings the notion of error theory, whatever that is, to cover this mismatch between theory and practice: but how does that help? Is this some "illusion" reminiscent of the supposed illusion of free will? Mackie, like other meta-ethicists, is IMO ignoring the essentially practical nature of ethics as a guide to behaviour - and I have to say that Nowell-Smith's book "Ethics" does constantly refer back to a person who asks "But what should I do?"
I suppose my approach could be called heuristic: I think we have to examine particular statements and see whether there can be a reasonable consensus on them once all misunderstandings and factual errors have been ironed out - if so, then it is not really fair or realistic to simply continue to deny any truth to them. This is consistent with what I said at the beginning about the unwisdom of theories which attempt to make blanket generalisations about each and every statement of values. I won't go on any more, as this topic was discussed by us months ago:
http://forum.thinkhumanism.com/viewtopi ... =13&t=4729