Quick question of the day

How do we justify moral beliefs?



7 thoughts on “Quick question of the day

  1. May I suggest that we don’t need to justify them. Our metaphysics are our own personal beliefs, and we derive our ethics from them. We no more need to justify moral beliefs than we need to justify our existence – we can deny both if we want, but to what end? The important issue in ethics, I contend, is not how we justify our beliefs (justify them how you wish!), but how we position our ethics with respect to other individuals with different moral beliefs.

    Best wishes!

  2. Hmm, I don’t like that framing of the question; Chris. I may agree on the point that we may not need to ask the question. You are certainly right that it is important to frame our interests and purposes before conceiving of ethics itself. But ‘personal moralities’ has no place in our moral theory desideratum. The question of how we react to others, is not a question of philosophy, but maybe political science.


  3. “The question of how we react to others, is not a question of philosophy, but maybe political science.”

    What do you think philosophy is that it can be bounded so easily to exclude other people? This is like Arendt’s contention that she is not a philosopher because “philosophy deals with man in the singular”. How was this established, exactly? By the introversion of philosophers throughout history? I see no such boundary in philosophy.

    You can draw your definitions how you like, but if you don’t think the interactions between people is a legitimate subject for philosophy, then I reject your definition of philosophy! 🙂

  4. I think it is fundamentally important to understand human interaction, social construction, and group behaviour. This is best suitable for the tools of psychology and sociology. Metaphysics and ethics have no place to perform these tasks; except the foundations. Philosophy is the fundamentals; is bosons and neurons subjects of philosophy? Not if they are trivial! Mathematicians, sociologists, physicists, and so on, do great and very important work in trying to understand reality; and philosophers are there to help them when they go wrong.


  5. Some misunderstanding here… Essentially, I find it strange that you want to render ethics in isolation – this seems to me to be largely impossible, and this was the point to which I was objecting. Ethics is absolutely about how people live together, else it has no purpose. But it’s also possible that we’re just talking at crossed-purposes and there is no fundamental disagreement. *shrugs*

  6. ‘Ethics in isolation’. I will need to think hard about your suggestion. A question such as ‘what justifies moral beliefs’ is kind of independent of the question: ‘what is right and wrong’; although the former may tell us about the latter. I’m trying to ask a meta-ethical question. Philosophers like to -meta things up 🙂

  7. Certainly – without the meta-perspective, where would we philosophers be? 🙂 Probably the single greatest addition to the language that Aristotle gave us was the change to the meaning of that prefix. 😉

    And, just to reiterate, my answer to “what justifies moral beliefs” is “our own metaphysics”. However, I also believe that there is a social element to this justification – you might consider this validation, rather than justification however; I suppose it depends on what it is you believe you are looking for…

    Best wishes! 🙂

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