1) Are there any objective moral principles that are observed by all (or most) cultures and if so what are these?

2) Next, where does your answer place you in the objectivism vs non-objectivism debate regarding moral facts?  

3) Describe one criticism from our reading of the view you espouse and include your best response.


Directions: Please provide detailed and elaborate responses to the following questions.  Each response should be at least one half of one page in length and utilize APA format.


1.      What is Ockham’s Razor and to what extent does it work for or against the non-objectivist view?


2.      What is the argument from queerness, and what roles does Ockham’s Razor play in the argument?


3.      What does it mean to give an evolutionary account of moral values?


4.      Define “noncognitivism.”


5.      Define moral realism.


6.      Compare and contrast moral realism and nonobjectivism.  Which approach is more compelling?  Explain.


7.      What is a paradigm shift?


8.      What role does intuition or exalted powers of reason play in contemporary realist theories?





Directions: The following problems ask you to evaluate hypothetical situations and/or concepts related to the reading in this module.  While there are no “correct answers” for these problems, you must demonstrate a strong understanding of the concepts and lessons from this module’s reading assignment.  Please provide detailed and elaborate responses to the following problems.  Your responses should include examples from the reading assignments and should utilize APA guidelines.  Responses that fall short of the assigned minimum page length will not earn any points.


1.      Two weeks ago, your good friend Joe spent his entire Saturday helping you move all of your stuff into your new apartment.  This weekend, Joe is moving into his apartment.  You promised to help Joe move.  Besides, even if you had not promised, you feel that you ought to help Joe; after all, he’s a good and loyal friend, and he generously helped you just a couple of weeks ago.  Suppose you say: “I know I really ought to keep my promise and help Joe move; but I have got a chance to go to the beach for the weekend, and I really love the beach; so I am afraid I am going to skip out on Joe.”  That is a rotten thing to do to your friend; but still, under strong temptation we have all failed to do the right thing on one or two occasions.  But suppose you said: “I know that I really ought to keep my promise and help Joe; I know it is the right thing to do, and helping Joe would certainly be good.  But I have no inclination whatsoever to help Joe.  I fully understand that it is the right thing to do and that helping Joe would be good; but although I recognize that helping Joe is good, I am not at all inclined to do the right thing.”  Would it make sense to say that?  Suppose one of your friends said: “Look, that is nonsense.  You cannot say you know it would be good to help Joe, and then say that you have no inclination to help him.  Either you do not really think that helping Joe is good, or you are confused about the meanings of the words.  If you really know that helping Joe is the right thing to do, you must have some inclination to do it.”  Would your friend be right?  Your response should be at least one page in length.


2.      “Astronomers maintain that black holes exist in our galaxy.  A black hole results when a massive star implodes, and all its mass is compressed into a very small volume.  This produces an object so dense, and with such powerful gravitational force, that no light can escape.  Therefore, you cannot really ‘see’ a black hole; we can reasonably conclude that a black hole exists: it is the best explanation for those motions.  Likewise, you do not really ‘see’ a moral fact; but by observing the convergent conclusions and behavior of people who think calmly and carefully about a moral issue, we can conclude that a moral fact exists: it is the best explanation for that convergent movement.”  Is that a good analogy?  Your response should be at least one half of one page in length.


3.      Imagine if your car was making a funny sound and you went to two different mechanics to see what the problem was. One of them tells you that you need to have a single part replaced. The other tells you that you have to have several small parts replaced. Both repairs will cost exactly the same amount and take the same amount of time to perform. Additionally, both mechanics are equally as reputable. Which mechanic would you go with and why?  Your response should be at least one half of one page in length.


4.      Has technology created a paradigm shift in our lifetime? Why or why not?  Your response should be at least one page in length.


5.      Suppose that it is discovered that there are no objective morals. Could we still have laws? Why or why not?  Your response should be at least one page in length.


6.      Suppose it is discovered that all cultures around the world share a common belief about how to eat Oreos. Does this mean that there is an objectively correct way to eat an Oreo? Why or why not?  Your response should be at least one half of one page in length.


7.      Does a moral realist have to be a transcendental moralist (p. 7 of in textbook)?  Why or why not?  Your response should be at least one page in length.




Knowing Ethical Principles If at last we drag some reclusive beast out of the depths of Loch Ness, then we will discover that some species we had thought long extinct still survives. Maybe such creatures exist— probably not. Uncondi-tional, absolute moral principles are different. Those who believe in them believe that they must exist. They don’t exist only if we like them, or happen to recognize them, or choose to adopt them. Rather, they are universal, eternal moral principles that are unconditionally true whether anyone recognizes them or not. There might have been a Loch Ness Monster; it happens there is not. But eternal moral principles have no such contingency. They are absolute truths, not discovered by fishing in Loch Ness nor by any other form of observation or experiment. So not only are there special universal moral principles but we also require special powers or capacities to recognize them. The sensory powers that reveal a new beetle species are not adequate for this task. What powers must we have to recognize such absolute moral truths? That varies, depending on what the absolute moral truths are. Some claim the truths are dictated by God, and are given to us by special rev-elation. Others hold that each of us has a special innate moral capacity— a conscience, or a moral sense— that implants in us the basic moral truths. Philosophers such as Plato and Kant maintain that the special power that reveals such eternal moral truths is the power of Reason— not the ordinary reason that enables you to select a horse to wager on in the eighth race at Belmont, but a power of Reason that enables you to see beyond mere appearances and surface features and discern deep, underlying moral truths. But whatever the means by which we discover absolute moral principles— whether by God’s special revelation, or some remarkable innate intuitive power, or through sublime Reason— this is not a natural capacity like sight or hearing that we share with other animals. Rather, this is a special power that sets us apart from the natural world: a power that makes us almost godlike. If you think of moral principles as more mundane, conditional matters, then you are likely to have a more modest account of how those moral principles are recognized. Moral principles aren’t written in the heavens, nor are they special absolute truths. Since they are not extraordinary, they require no extraordinary powers for their understanding, and they do not set moral humans apart as unique and special. If morality is based in feelings of sympathy and social concern, then morality requires no special powers or esoteric capacities. For example, Darwin believed that morality is simply a natural result of social sympathy: The following proposition seems to me in a high degree probable— namely, that any animal whatever, endowed with well- marked social instincts, the parental and filial affections being here included, would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as its intellectual powers had become as well, or nearly as well developed, as in man. 2






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