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Discuss whether moral judgements are subjective or objective

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Introduction

Discuss whether moral judgements are subjective or objective There are several branches of moral philosophy. The branch that examines the sociological facts of moral philosophy is called descriptive ethics. Another branch is normative ethics which deals with how a person ought to behave. The branch that has its focus on the definitions of moral terms themselves is called metaethics and it is this branch that draws the distinctions between subjective and objective moral judgements. Objectivists believe that morality is a constant which does not change through time. They believe that some things are always wrong no matter what the circumstances surrounding them are. For example, staunch anti-abortionists are objective because they believe that killing an unborn child is wrong no matter what the circumstances are. Objectivists believe that moral disagreements can be settled one way or another. Without an objective basis for morality they believe that there is no way of saying that another's morality is wrong (ethical relativism). Moral judgements are facts which can be true or false and they can be backed up by a truth value. Objectivists could say that killing is wrong because it is against God's will as given in the ten commandments (Ex.21:12-32). ...read more.

Middle

A Utilitarian would ask the question "What course of action will produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number?" This begs the question "how can you define or measure 'greatest happiness'. It can be argued that happiness is not the only end that people pursue for its own sake because justice is sometimes pursued at the expense of a persons happiness. Taking drugs or alcohol can be thought to give a great number of people 'happiness' but it is not good for their health. Mill argued that it was only the higher and more intellectual pleasures such as literature and music which could qualify as giving general happiness. However, these things do not give happiness to everyone. It is possible to interpret 'objectivity' in such a strong sense that it can be established only by some form of naturalism - that is, by saying that the meaning of moral words leaves you no doubt as to what course of action is 'right'. These general moral principles along with statements of fact can help people make moral judgements. However G.E Moore argues that moral principles are synthetic and therefore they cannot be established by studying the words. ...read more.

Conclusion

Emotivism allows people from different cultures to hold onto their differing values for example in some Muslim countries men are allowed to marry up to four wives. More recent prescriptivists have continued this argument further by stating that because moral judgements are action-guided (prescriptive) and they do not come from logical deduction (the use of terms). If you think that an act is the best in the circumstances you are most likely to choose it for example if you had to choose between giving birth to a very deformed baby or termination you may choose termination. However, if you might actually be morally against abortion. Advice would vary from person to person depending on their life experiences. Existentialist Ethics especially Jean-Paul Satre who, as an atheist, believed that living by laws is regarded as 'bad faith' as human freedom is most important. Abraham is seen as a good example of existentialism because of his faith he was willing to obey God even if it meant killing his son . This openness to the future is thought to be more important than conforming to the past. An objective view would be that something can be true or false because of faith, will or choice. Both facts and values are often used when making a moral decision. ...read more.

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