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Encyclopedia > Moral objectivism

Moral objectivism or moral realism is the position that certain acts are objectively right or wrong, independent of human opinion. According to Richard Boyd, moral realism means that: Image File history File links Please see the file description page for further information. ... Moral realism is the view in philosophy that there are objective moral values. ... Richard Boyd is a philosopher currently housed at Cornell University. ...

  1. Moral statements are the sorts of statements which are (or which express propositions which are) true or false (or approximately true, largely false, etc.);
  2. The truth or falsity (approximate truth . . . ) of moral statements is largely independent of our moral opinions, theories, etc.;
  3. Ordinary canons of moral reasoning—together with ordinary canons of scientific and everyday factual reasoning—constitute, under many circumstances at least, a reliable method for obtaining and improving (approximate) moral knowledge.[1]

Models of objective morality may be atheistic (in the case of Enlightenment philosophers), monotheistic (in the case of the Abrahamic religions), or pantheistic (in the case of Hinduism). The moral codes may stem from reason, from the divine, or from a combination of the two. These various systems differ as to the nature of the objective morality, but agree on its existence. It is this diversity between codes of objective morality, and the seemingly endless debates between people over irreconcilably different claims to objective morality that lead many to reject the concept entirely, in favor of subjective morality (see moral relativism, Subjectivism). The 18th-century French author Baron dHolbach was one of the first self-described atheists. ... The Age of Enlightenment (French: Siècle des Lumières, German: Aufklärung) refers to the eighteenth century in European and American philosophy, or the longer period including the Age of Reason. ... In theology, monotheism (Greek μόνος(monos) = single and θεός(theos) = God) is the belief in the existence of one deity or God, or in the oneness of God. ... Map showing the prevalence of Abrahamic (purple), Dharmic (dark yellow), and Taoic (light yellow) religions in each country. ... Pantheism (Greek: pan = all and Theos = God) literally means God is All and All is God. It is the view that everything is of an all-encompassing immanent God; or that the universe, or nature, and God are equivalent. ... Hinduism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... It has been suggested that reasoning be merged into this article or section. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... In philosophy, moral relativism is the position that moral or ethical propositions do not reflect absolute and universal moral truths, but instead make claims relative to social, cultural, historical or personal circumstances. ... This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...

In their effort to overcome these difficulties, advocates of objective morality have proposed a number of means to bridge the gap between the objective and subjective.


Sources of objective morality

Systems of objective morality are seen as proceeding from many sources, including:

This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... It has been suggested that reasoning be merged into this article or section. ... Utilitarianism (1861), see Utilitarianism (book). ... The really big super duper huge greg is gay categorical imperative is the central philosophical concept of the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and to modern deontological ethics. ... Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (April 22, 1724 – February 12, 1804) was a Prussian philosopher, generally regarded as one of Europes most influential thinkers and the last major philosopher of the Enlightenment. ... Thomism is the philosophical school that followed in the legacy of Thomas Aquinas. ...

The Divine alone

Many codes of objective morality hold that moral codes originate in some divine entity, either God or cosmic forces such as karma. This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... Karma (Sanskrit act, action, performance[1]; Pāli kamma) ( ) is the concept of action or deed in Dharmic religions understood as denoting the entire cycle of cause and effect described in Hindu and Buddhist philosophies. ...

Within the Abrahamic religions, it is believed that God communicates his will to humanity through prophets, who inform us of God's will for our behavior. The messages may come in the form of covenants, such as the Noahide Laws or Ten commandments. They may also come in the form of teachings and healings, such as those performed by Jesus, or prophetic utterances such as the Qur'an. map showing the prevalence of Abrahamic (purple) and Dharmic (yellow) religions in each country. ... In religion, a prophet (or prophetess) is a person who has directly encountered the numinous and serves as an intermediary with humanity for the divine. ... Covenant, in its most general sense, is a solemn and bilateral promise to do or not do something specified. ... The Seven Noahide Laws (Hebrew: שבע מצוות בני נח, Sheva mitzvot bnei Noach), also called the Brit Noah (Covenant of Noah) mitzvot (commandments) and halakhot (laws) that are morally binding on non-Jews according to Judaism. ... This 1768 parchment (612x502 mm) by Jekuthiel Sofer emulated the 1675 Decalogue at Amsterdam Esnoga synagogue. ... This article is about Jesus of Nazareth. ... The Qurān [1] (Arabic: ‎, literally the recitation; also called ‎ The Noble Qurān; also transliterated as Quran, Koran, and Al-Quran) is the central religious text of Islam. ...

Within Hinduism and Buddhism, it is believed that a number of great teachers (gurus or buddhas, respectively), who have achieved a higher level of consciousness and understanding of the universe through spiritual development, and are able to pass these lessons on to those who have not yet reached that level of spiritual understanding. Hinduism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... Buddhism is a dharmic, non-theistic religion, which is also a philosophy and a system of psychology. ... Guru - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... Media:Example. ...

Many systems of objective morality hold that humans are bound to external standards of morality or immorality, and are rewarded and punished insofar as they attain to those standards. For example:

  • Islam holds that Allah rewards and punishes human beings through heaven and hell, based on the morality or immorality of their actions on Earth.
  • Hinduism holds that one's objectively moral or immoral acts have corresponding effects on one's karma, which has a direct effect on the quality of one's next life. One is therefore rewarded and punished by the universe for one's good or bad actions.

Islam (Arabic:  ) is a monotheistic religion based upon the teachings of Muhammad, a 7th century Arab religious and political figure. ... For other uses, see Allah (disambiguation). ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Medieval illustration of Hell in the Hortus deliciarum manuscript of Herrad of Landsberg (about 1180) A hell, according to many religious beliefs, is an afterlife of suffering where the wicked or unrighteous dead are punished. ... Hinduism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... Karma (Sanskrit act, action, performance[1]; Pāli kamma) ( ) is the concept of action or deed in Dharmic religions understood as denoting the entire cycle of cause and effect described in Hindu and Buddhist philosophies. ...

Reason alone

Other systems of thought are based on the idea that objective morality can be derived from various aspects of the natural world through the use of reason alone. This does not negate religion or the existence of god(s). Reason alone has been used to derive moral principles in both theistic and atheistic models of objective morality.

For instance, one line of thought is based on rational self-interest, which is the principle that moral acts are those that truly benefit the agent, and immoral acts are those that truly harm the agent. The key element of this mode of morality is that the agent must desire what is truly good for him. In his Ethics, Aristotle wrote: Aristotle (Greek: Aristotélēs) (384 BC – March 7, 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. ...

What is the Good for Man?
"Most men, i.e. men of the most vulgar sort, appear (as might be expected from the lives they lead) to identify the good, or happiness, with pleasure; and this is just why they love the life of enjoyment. But there are three outstanding types of life:
(a) the one just mentioned [pleasure],
(b) the political
(c) the contemplative.
Now as regards (a), the majority of people are manifestly altogether slavish in their tastes, preferring a life similar to that of the beasts;
As regards (b), consideration for the principal types of life shows that persons of superior refinement and active disposition identify happiness with honour; for this is, roughly speaking, the goal of political life. It is, however, clearly too superficial to be what we are seeking; for it is regarded as dependent on those who confer honour rather than on the person honoured, whereas we divine the good to be something proper to a man and of which he is not easily deprived. Again, men seem to pursue honour in order to persuade themselves that they are good; at least they seek to be honoured by men of practical wisom, among those who know them, and on account of their virtue. Evidently then, in their view at any rate, virtue is better ...
Wealth is clearly not the good we are seeking; for it is merely useful and has something else in view; ...
Honour, pleasure, reason and every virtue we choose indeed for themselves, but we choose them also for the sake of happiness, supposing that by their means we shall be happy ...
Happiness then is something final and self-sufficient, and is the goal of activity." (Ethics, p. 7 et seq).

According to Aristotle, Happiness is the end of human activity, and honour, pleasure, reason, and virtue are the primary means to that end. Therefore, those who apply their lives to the virtues will be both moral and happy; but those who apply their lives to "slavish tastes" will be neither moral nor happy.

One of the most vocal supporters of ethics based on rational self-interest alone is Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy, which holds that the fundamental values are Reason, Purpose, and Self-esteem. Applying these essentially self-interested values to one's experience through reason is seen as the path to virtue, or the "conceptual life." Controversially, Objectivist philosophy sees Religion, Altruism and Duty as immoral, because they are believed to be contrary to the agent's self-interest. Though Objectivist Ethics does not hold charity in itself to be immoral, it is regarded at best a minor virtue. More importantly, Objectivism rejects charity as a fundamental tenet of morality. It holds altruism or any action guided by "selflessness" as a negation of morality because of the dichotomy it creates between a person's values and his actions. Consequently, Objectivism views charity to be a moral action only if it reflects and is motivated by one's own value system. It has been suggested that The Ayn Rand Collective be merged into this article or section. ... Objectivism is the philosophical system developed by Russian-American philosopher and writer Ayn Rand. ... It has been suggested that reasoning be merged into this article or section. ... Purpose in its most general sense is the anticipated aim which guides action. ... In psychology, self-esteem or self-worth is a persons self-image at an emotional level; circumventing reason and logic. ... For the ethical doctrine, see Altruism (ethics). ... Duty is a term loosely appliedDuty to any action (or course of action) whichDutyDuty is regarded as morally incumbent, apart from personal likes and dislikes or any external compulsion. ...

Aristotle's view that Happiness is the end of human activity has been influential in the development of another objective moral philosophy, utilitarianism. Utilitarianism rejects the notion of self-interest as the basis of morality, arguing, for example, that self-interest is inherently subjective because it depends on the specific circumstances and preferences of a given individual, and that self-interest cannot be used as a universal standard of Good because the interests of different people may not be compatible. Instead of self-interest, utilitarianism takes the happiness of humanity as its standard of Good. Thus, according to the utilitarian view, moral acts are those that benefit humanity overall and immoral acts are those that harm humanity overall. Utilitarianism (1861), see Utilitarianism (book). ... Humanity refers to the human race or mankind as a whole, to that which is characteristically human, or to that which distinguishes human beings from other animals or from other animal species primal nature. ...

Utilitarianism was originally developed in 18th century England by Jeremy Bentham and others, though the tradition of utilitarian ideas can be traced back to ancient Greek philosophers such as Parmenides. It has been influential in political science, particularly in the development of democracy. (17th century - 18th century - 19th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 18th century refers to the century that lasted from 1701 through 1800. ... Motto: (French for God and my right) Anthem: God Save the King/Queen Capital London (de facto) Largest city London Official language(s) English (de facto) Unification    - by Athelstan AD 927  Area    - Total 130,395 km² (1st in UK)   50,346 sq mi  Population    - 2006 est. ... Jeremy Bentham (IPA: or ) (February 15, 1748 O.S. (February 26, 1749 N.S.) – June 6, 1832) was an English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer. ... Classical (or early) Greek philosophy focused on the role of reason and inquiry. ... Parmenides of Elea (Greek: , early 5th century BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher born in Elea, a Hellenic city on the southern coast of Italy. ... Political science is the field of the social sciences concerning the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behavior. ...

Finally, in yet another line of thought, Immanuel Kant argued for the existence of moral objectivism on the basis of the Categorical Imperative, which he formulated as follows: Immanuel Kant (22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804), was a German philosopher from Königsberg in East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). ... The really big super duper huge greg is gay categorical imperative is the central philosophical concept of the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and to modern deontological ethics. ...

"Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."

To illustrate, when a man is attempting to decide whether to steal, he should ask himself, "But what if everybody were required to steal?" In such a case, the entire society would descend into chaos. Since one cannot reasonably wish that everybody should do what one is considering doing, one must not do it. Consequently, one acts immorally when one attempts to set up a different standard for himself from for the rest of humanity.

The divine and reason

A third category of systems hold that the divine command and the ways of reason coincide completely. This idea is based on the principle that God gives commands to humanity for the benefit of humanity and in line with reason, so that religion and reason are inseparably linked together.

Thomism holds that the fundamental values of reason lead directly (by way of arguments for the existence of God) to belief in God, and further, to Christianity. St. Thomas Aquinas, the author of Thomism, strove to synthesize Christianity with the thought of Aristotle. Thomism is the philosophical school that followed in the legacy of Thomas Aquinas. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Existence of God. ... Christianity is a monotheistic[1] religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament. ... Christianity is a monotheistic[1] religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament. ... Aristotle (Greek: Aristotélēs) (384 BC – March 7, 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. ...

Aquinas held that the nature of the universe and essences of objects do not depend on the free will of God, but on His intellect, and ultimately on His essence, which is unchanging. The natural law, springing from the mind of God, is therefore also immutable. Consequently, immoral acts are immoral not simply because God forbids them, but because they are inherently immoral. (Zigliara, 1889) Aquinas concluded that it is possible to gain knowledge of God and morality through reason alone, but that because most men are not capable of such expansive reason, God in his Grace gave humanity the divine revelation necessary to allow humans to achieve salvation. Natural law or the law of nature (Latin lex naturalis) is a law whose content is set by nature, and that therefore has validity everywhere. ... This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... In Christianity, divine grace refers to the sovereign favor of God for humankind, as manifest in the blessings bestowed upon all —irrespective of actions (deeds), earned worth, or proven goodness. ... For information on the last book of the New Testament see the entry on the Book of Revelation. ... In theology, salvation can mean three related things: freed forever from the punishment of sin Revelation 1:5-6 NRSV - also called deliverance;[1] being saved for something, such as an afterlife or participating in the Reign of God Revelation 1:6 NRSV - also called redemption;[2]) and a process...

In general, this philosophical tradition has promoted a fusion between various religious and secular forms of objective morality (see examples above), arguing that they are not only compatible but outright inseparable.

The origin of immorality

Unlike moral relativism, proponents of moral objectivism face a unique challenge: explaining why people act immorally. To the moral relativist, the answer is simple: people behave differently because they hold different values, and those considered "immoral" are immoral only because their values differ from social consensus. Immorality is simply a result of varying codes of value.

Moral objectivists have provided different explanations as to why, if there is an objective moral code, people so often fall short of it.


In his Ethics, Aristotle attributed acts of immorality to the "irrational element" within the soul, which struggled against the rational principle. He described the irrational element as: Aristotle (Greek: Aristotélēs) (384 BC – March 7, 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. ...

"by its nature opposed to the rational principle, which fights and resists that principle. Exactly as paralysed limbs when we decide to move them to the right turn contrariwise to the left, so the impulses of the self-indulgent man's soul move in opposition to the rational principle." (Ethics 26).

To Aristotle, the tension against the rational principle was an inherent part of our souls, but in the rational man, the irrational element obeyed the rational element just as a son obeys his father.

The key to bringing the irrational element into obedience to the rational principle was, to Aristotle, practice. One learns to be virtuous by acting virtuously.

St. Paul

Whereas Aristotle spoke of the "rational" and "irrational" aspects of the soul, Paul spoke of "Sin" and the "Spirit," twin forces which struggled for control of the man. To Paul, Sin has a will of its own, contrary to the will of the man.

He believed this because of a unique experience: the perception of wanting to obey the Law, but breaking it anyway. This was a mysterious phenomenon to Paul. For why should a person do things they did not want to do? If he truly wanted to do those things, surely he would do them without guilt. But if his guilt indicated that he didn't actually want to do those things, then why did he do them?

The answer, to Paul, was that there was Sin living in him.

Paul wrote:

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." -- Romans 7.

Attaining objective morality

A number of thinkers have considered why mankind always seems to fall short of objective morality, and how we are to attain to it. Generally speaking, they have argued that while objective morality is the highest good for humans, we are not naturally given to it, and must be educated or trained in order to value what is good, and properly execute our reason in attaining it.

  • In Plato's Republic, the well-nurtured youth is one 'who would see most clearly whatever was amiss in ill-made works of man or ill-grown works of nature, and with a just distaste would blame and hate the ugly even from his earliest years and would give delighted praise to beauty, receiving it into his soul and being nourished by it, so that he becomes a man of gentle heart. All this before he is of the age of reason; that when Reason at length comes to him, then, bred as he has been, he will hold out his hands in welcome and recognize her because of the affinity he bears to her.' Republic 402a.
  • Aristotle wrote that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought, so that when the age of reflective thought comes, the pupil who has been thus trained in 'ordinate affections' or 'just sentiments' will easily find the first principles in Ethics: but to the corrupt man they will never be visible at all and he can make no progress in that science. Eth. Nic. 1104, 1095.
  • The early Hindu concept of the Rta corresponds to the pattern of nature and supernature which is revealed alike in the cosmic order and the moral virtues. Righteousness, correctness, order, the Rta, is constantly identified with satya, or truth, corresponding to Reality.
  • "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6 KJV
  • In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis argues in favor of the concept of natural law, and against the concept of subjective morality. He identified his concept of objective natural law as the Tao. The Tao, or Way, encompasses the principles and codes of behavior by which humans were intended to operate. They are encapsulated by Lewis in the Christian principle: "Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself."

The Abolition of Man is a 1943 book by C. S. Lewis. ... Clive Staples Lewis (November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis, was an author and scholar. ...

Moral objectivism and free will

Semi-religious arguments for moral objectivism have to do with the relationship between free will, choice, and morals. Some have argued that without free will, the universe is deterministic and therefore morally uninteresting (i.e., if all moral choices and moral behavior are determined by outside forces, there can be no need for any person to ponder morality), though this would depend on whether free choice is required for an action to be 'moral'. If free will exists, it stands to reason that the universe allows moral behavior. From this, some believe this feature is integral to the universe's reason for being. A softer, more theological, line of reasoning is that God may 'need' to permit us to have choices, but leaves the concerns of those choices (and their consequences) up to the people making them. In this case, moral objectivism is a subjective decision (i.e., free will must, by definition, include the freedom to choose what is moral). Free-Will is a Japanese independent record label founded in 1986. ...

These views are generally not accepted by those who deny free will. Some, in fact, deny free will and still accept moral objectivism — and argue that these two beliefs are inextricably tied.


A primary criticism of moral objectivism regards how we come to know what the 'objective' morals actually are. In science one can perform empirical tests of claims, but it is more difficult to test moral claims. Critics say that if morals are to be truly objective, they would have a universally unquestioned source, interpretation and authority — but there is no conceivable source of such morals, and so none can be called 'objective'.They claim that even if there are objective morals, there will never be universal agreement on just what those morals are.

Proponents of theories of objective morality, however, try to counter these criticisms from several angles.


First, they claim that there are indeed objective empirical tests for many moral claims, such as sociology which uses both qualitative and quantitative methods to validate findings. For example, one can gather statistics on the average lifespan of people adhering a particular moral position or lifestyle, and contrast with other moral positions or lifestyles. Since the purpose of moral truth is to inform behavior and judgment, one need only study the statistical results of such behavior to gather evidence to test moral claims, just as one uses statistical results in science to validate effectiveness claims for a medicine. For instance, the ethics committees who advise governments, hospitals and so forth often include empirical evidence in their deliberations. This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...

However, although statistics are useful for making generalizations within certain contexts, they is always an explicit or tacit element of the overall judgment which is evaluative. For instance, it might be assumed that a long life is better than a short one; although one could easily question the notion of life span vs quality of life, or impact of one type of life on another. Statistics are data, indicating what is, not necessarily what should be, morals require a value judgment, either implicit or explicit, and not just a statement of fact.

Nevertheless, empirical data can settle moral questions in certain special cases where the dispute is over the factual component of a moral claim and not the evaluative component. For instance, the debate of the morality of angling tends to reduce to the factual question of whether it causes fish pain, since most would agree on the evaluative principle that is immoral to cause unnecessary suffering. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Sport fishing. ...

Truth and agreement

Second, they argue that consensus and truth are not necessarily equivalent — a proposition does not need to be universally held to be true for it to be actually true, and that a proposition may indeed be universally held to be true does not mean that it is actually true. (Example: flat earth) This demonstrates the problem of reconciling any discussion of what philosopher's refer to as epistemology and ontology. Is 'truth' the actual, or an understanding, or knowledge of the actual? 15th century adaptation of a T-O map. ...

Moral objectivists seem to need a theory of truth which goes beyond agreement, or coherence. However, a straightforward appeal to a correspondence theory of truth will incur the "queer object" criticism: what is it that the evaluative part of a moral claim corresponds to? The Platonic form of the Good? The objectivist could claim that the evaluative part of a moral claim works, like mathematics, by abstract reasoning. R. M. Hare, for instance, argued that there are logical relations between moral propositions. This approach is open to the criticism that such premises or axioms are mere arbitrary assumptions. This can in turn be addressed by the Kantian argument that certain principles are necessarily presupposed in assuming that moral reasoning is even possible. If one agrees with Kant's understanding of morality, the fact that it is moral reasoning that is being engaged removes some or all of the arbitrariness from the choice of axiom. This line of reasoning also assumes that one is interested in moral reasoning in the first place; it is still possible to reject morality altogether. Many philosophers, Nietzsche among them, claimed this as the necessary first step toward taking control of one's life. There are two distinct types of Coherentism. ... The correspondence theory of truth states that something (for example, a proposition or statement or sentence) is rendered true by the existence of a fact with corresponding elements and a similar structure. ... The Argument from Queerness is a term used by J. L. Mackie in his book Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong to describe a certain sort of reductio ad absurdum that he uses against moral objectivism; he argues that if there were objective values, then they would be entities of a... According to Platonic realism, universals exist in a realm (often so called) that is separate from space and time; one might say that universals have a sort of ghostly or heavenly mode of existence, but, at least in more modern versions of Platonism, such a description is probably more misleading... R.M. Hare Richard Mervyn Hare (March 21, 1919 – January 29, 2002) was an English moral philosopher, who held the post of Whites Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford from 1966 until 1983. ... This article does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (April 22, 1724 – February 12, 1804) was a Prussian philosopher, generally regarded as one of Europes most influential thinkers and the last major philosopher of the Enlightenment. ... Moral nihilism is the meta-ethical view that normative, moral statements are false. ... Friedrich Nietzsche, 1882 Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 - August 25, 1900) was a highly influential German philosopher. ...

Criteria for objectivity

Third, they argue that the criteria listed by the critics for objectivity are unreasonably difficult to achieve. Based on these criteria, neither science nor anything else could not be considered objective, but only has authority within its sphere of influence. Science does not have a "universally unquestioned source, interpretation and authority", or "universal agreement." It has a generally agreed method for arriving at a consensus, but the process of applying the method is gradual and often involved mistakes and disagreements along the way.

Some question whether science is objective in this sense; it is a method of inquiry, directed towards finding consistency, not objective truth, if it exists. What is not repeatable or self-consistent is discarded as error or considered incomplete. Science looks for consistency, implicitly assuming that it exists, not proving that it does.

Objectivists maintain that people search for consistency as a symptom of objectivity; the existence of an objective reality is the only thing they can conceive of that could explain the the existence of explanatory consistency. This is abductive reasoning. Abductive reasoning is sometimes referred to as a 'best guess' or the logical fallacy affirming the consequent. Other epistemic approaches — induction, deduction and so on — can also be criticised. This leaves some adopting a skeptical and/or pragmatic stance (see also Occam's Razor). Relying on pragmatism of course leads to the question just how objective, objective truth can be, especially when 'truth' can be counter-intuitive. This article is in need of attention. ... Affirming the consequent is a logical fallacy in the form of a hypothetical proposition. ... Look up induction in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... There are several meanings for the word deduction: Natural deduction Deductive reasoning Deductions in terms of taxation, such as Itemized deductions Standard deduction See also: Logic Venn diagram Inductive reasoning Both statistics and the scientific method rely on both induction and deduction. ... Skepticism (Commonwealth spelling: Scepticism) can mean: Philosophical skepticism - a philosophical position in which people choose to critically examine whether the knowledge and perceptions that they have are actually true, and whether or not one can ever be said to have absolutely true knowledge; or Scientific skepticism - a scientific, or practical... Pragmatism is a school of epistemology that originated with Charles Sanders Peirce (who first stated the pragmatic maxim) and came to fruition in the early twentieth-century philosophies of William James and John Dewey. ... William of Ockham Occams razor (also spelled Ockhams razor) is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham. ...


Fourthly, they point to scientific support and reasoning. Science, ,it is claimed depends upon objectivism, the notion that there is an objective reality to be understood, which would be impossible if reality were only subjective. Scientific tests are expected to produce independently reproducible results. If there is an objective reality, then an objective morality must exist as well, as the optimal way that man can interact with this objective reality. To the extent that we can understand objective reality and objective morality, we can learn to live better, even if there is never universal agreement on the exact nature of reality or morality. Objectivism is the philosophy developed by Russian-born American philosopher and author Ayn Rand. ...

This claim however can be argued as circular reasoning: science depends on objectivity which is shown via science. And the claim that there must be an optimal way of dealing with reality is only true if optimality — ie. what is best — can be defined, and "optimality" is of course an evaluative term. One must in short have a goal, before one can act towards it optimally, which means existense must have a purpose. Life doesn't imply any such purpose, although one can choose to affirm or affix meaning to its existense.

Objectivity and communication

If one goes down the route of claiming that every observer — perhaps every moment of every observer's life — has its own perspective, independent from all others, then one may be left wondering what is going on in the process of debate. If one pursues a shared truth through debate, or at least an agreement to differ, one is defeated by one's own subjectivity.

This problem has its basis however in the view that the point of any debate is to resolve an independent, or objective, truth. The dialectic has a long tradition of being used to examine observations simply for their coherence with other observations, and then building outwards. Objective truth, apart from being inaccessible, becomes irrelevant. What is, in this case simply is, and communication becomes synonymous with analysis.

However this issue is one of truth relativism and therefore beyond the scope of this article. Compare Moral relativism, Aesthetic relativism, Social constructionism and Cultural relativism. ...

See also

The divine command theory is the metaethical theory that morality (e. ... Ethics (from the Ancient Greek Ä“thikos, the adjective of Ä“thos custom, habit), a major branch of philosophy, is the study of values and customs of a person or group and covers the analysis and employment of concepts such as right and wrong, good and evil, and responsibility. ... Moral naturalism is a form of cognitivism derived from applying evolutionary game-theory to ethics. ... Moral realism is the view in philosophy that there are objective moral values. ... In philosophy, moral relativism is the position that moral or ethical propositions do not reflect absolute and universal moral truths, but instead make claims relative to social, cultural, historical or personal circumstances. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...


  • Zigliara, "Sum. phil." (3 vols., Paris, 1889), ccx, xi, II, M. 23, 24, 25)
  1. ^ Boyd, Richard N. (1988), "How to Be a Moral Realist", in Sayre-McCord, Geoffrey, Essays on Moral Realism, Cornell University Press, ISBN 0-8014-2240-X

Tommaso Maria Zigliara (baptismal name: Francesco) (end of October, 1833 - 11 May 1893) was a Roman Catholic cardinal, theologian, and philosopher. ... Richard Boyd is a philosopher currently housed at Cornell University. ... Cornell University Press, established in 1869, was the first university publishing enterprise in the United States and is one of the countrys largest university presses. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Moral Relativism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) (10714 words)
Let us say that moral objectivism maintains that moral judgments are ordinarily true or false in an absolute or universal sense, that some of them are true, and that people sometimes are justified in accepting true moral judgments (and rejecting false ones) on the basis of evidence available to any reasonable and well-informed person.
Examples of moral practices that appear sharply at odds with moral outlooks common in the United States are not hard to come by: polygamy, arranged marriages, suicide as a requirement of honor or widowhood, severe punishments for blasphemy or adultery, female circumcision or genital mutilation (as it is variously called), and so on.
To the objection that moral objectivism implies intolerance (or imperialism), objectivists typically contend that the fact that we regard a society as morally wrong in some respect does not entail that we should interfere with it.
Moral Objectivism (7196 words)
"Objectivism" denotes the thesis that morality is objective.
Another way of stating the thesis that morality is objective is to say that values are 'part of the fabric of reality;' that is, there is some actual state of the world that corresponds to a value judgement.
Moral intuition is not comparable to a special faculty of perception, because moral judgements are supposed to be necessary (given the other, descriptive facts) and not empirical.
  More results at FactBites »



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