Today’s Subject

Although there are endless variations and additions to the two main polar extremes within moral philosophy, those two poles are fairly easily characterised as being objective and subjective. Namely, the former, where moral values are in some sense inherent in the world, and not dependent upon human valuation for their status; and the latter, where moral values do not inhere in the world independent of human activity. These definitions are suitably loose to annoy any academic philosopher, but strict enough to make me chafe already.

My aim is not to treat with these two positions, giving reasons for and against. Partly because the idea of objective moral values is so patently ridiculous as to not require it. As I shall come to, why anyone would argue for this betrays not a commitment to a rational position, but a terrible personal flaw leaving them unable to accept what is actually the case. There are no objective moral values. Remove humanity (or sentients) from the equation, and grind down, stack up, arrange, rearrange, organise, what is left however you like, and you will never come across a moral value, or moral fact (whatever that is supposed to mean).

So why posit it? The most benign cases are likely to be where it has not occurred that one does not need to replace the stultifying iron age ideas of morality being the guidance of/from a higher world with something similarly suffocating, just because one’s god is dead. Surely once the brutal taskmaster has been dispensed with we should have the inclination and drive to come up with something better. Something free of jihad, of any idea that someone could be condemned to an eternity of torture for so little as a century of indiscretion, or perhaps something that simply allows one to exist as we wish without the categorical sedative of painting any who disagree as Wrong.

Which edges towards subjectivity. Towards what value we perceive or project into/onto the world. Or, more happily, inter-subjectivity, because, despite what many will tell you, subjectivity is not some morass into which any attempt to share or understand values is doomed to failure. Of course, not all will agree, but please pause and correct me if I am wrong, but it does not strike me that everyone who believes there is an ultimate objective source of value fully agrees all the time either. Even those who ostensibly believe the same thing, as terribly embarrassing as that must be.

Ah, which returns to the flaws of objectivists. So vicious they cannot allow others to depart from their grotesque worldview. So frightened that without the whips and spurs of eternal Rightness they couldn’t possibly live day to day without transgressing their values. So inelegant they cannot find wonder in the height and clarity of mountaintops, only the gravitic piles of their roots.

So contemptuous that they worry subjectivism would leave them unable to commit to a point forcefully.