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Values and Reality - Essay Example

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The question `Is value a part of the world?’ is completely redundant and it is in

the nature of subjectivity which needs to be altered in perspective…
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Values and Reality
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VALUES The question Is value a part of the world' is completely redundant and it is in the nature of ivity which needs to be altered in perspective. Values change from
individual to individual, community to community. Values that are cherished by one
individual may not be a guideline for another individual at all. Indeed the values which
underline the character of one community may not be accepted at all by another
community. The concept of values is entire subjective in nature.
Values are not there in the world for any observer, one without our human interest
in morality. The test for an objectivity of a property is whether it used in judgements for
which there are developed standards of rational argument and whether they are needed to
explain aspects of our experience that are otherwise inexplicable. John McDowell thinks
that both these test moral properties are in a sense "subjective" but not in a way that
undermines their reality.
The connection between McDowell's general metaphysics and this particular
claim about moral properties is that all claims about objectivity are to be made from the
internal perspective of our actual practices. Characterising the place of values in our
worldview is not, in McDowell's view, to downgrade them as less real than talk of quarks
or the Higgs boson.
Mackie, In Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong Part I, acknowledges that
subjectivism is often thought of as a kind of skepticism. However, he claims that
"subjectivism" is also used to refer to a first order normative view. It is the view that each
individual ought to do whatever that individual happens to think he should. The term
"subjectivism" has also been used to convey different second order views as well.
There are second order linguistic claims about the nature of moral language, of
moral terms and moral judgments. Mackie feels the type of second order subjectivism is
really a report or expression of the subject's feelings or attitudes. He differentiates his
own moral skepticism from this view on two grounds - one that his is a negative claim,
and two, that his thesis is ontological, not linguistic. Mackie observes that there is a
connection between these differing forms of skepticism; Many people get attracted
towards the linguistic type of second order moral skepticism because they already
embrace the negative ontological attitude towards objective value.
Mackie's skeptical claim that there are no objective values is consistent with the
idea that values are subjective in the sense that they are agreed upon or shared. It may
also be that such values can be made universal without being objective. He also
distinguishes between objectivism about values and descriptivism. Descriptivism is a
view about moral language, according to which, the meanings of moral terms are purely
descriptive. It does not involve evaluative or prescriptive component.
The descriptivist about moral meaning holds that someone can judge an act cruel
without condemning it.Mackie points out that the mainstream European tradition of
moral philosophy since Plato holds that values are objective and also that moral
judgments refer to these values and are essentially motivating or action-guiding. This
mainstream view of moral discourse implies that descriptivism is false because it implies
motivational externalism, whereas the mainstream tradition embraces motivational
Mackie observes the objectivity of moral judgments in the sense that they can
employ intersubjectively valid standards. Since those standards themselves are not valid
because they reflect in turn objective values, he maintains his fundamental moral
skepticism about the objectivity of values. Value is part of the world and subjectivity is
not distinct from it in the traditional understanding.
Sources -
1. Mind Value and Reality - John Mc Dowell (Harvard 1998)
2. Needs, Values Truth - D. Wiggin's (OUP 1998)
3. Ethics : Inventiing Right and Wrong Part I Read More
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