Hello and welcome back to the introduction to Philosophy course at the University of Edinburgh. My name's Matthew Chrisman. I'm a reader in philosophy here in the School of Philosophy Psychology and language sciences. Today I want to talk to you about a topic in moral philosophy that I call the status in morality. What is morality? Well that's a really big question, today what we'll focus on is particular moral judgments and ask about their status. What do I mean by particular moral judgments? Well I have in mind the everyday sort of judgments that we make when we think something like what Pol Pot did in the genocide was morally abhorrent or giving to charity's a good thing to do. But also the kind of moral judgments that ethical philosophers make. They make judgments that are little bit more abstract. They say things like an action is right as so far as it maximizes overall happiness or when opt to always act in a way that one could will ones reasons to be reasons for everyone else. These are very abstract moral judgments made in ethical theory, we have the particular moral judgments made in everyday life. Today we won't be asking whether these are correct. Whether specific moral judgments or abstract moral judgments are correct or incorrect. Rather we'll be asking about the status of these judgments. What are we doing when we make such judgments? Are we representing objective facts of the matter? Or are we describing our personal or cultural practices? Are we depicting some element of the universe out there? The moral facts? Or are we expressing our emotions towards things? These are the types of questions that we ask when we ask about the status of morality. So what I want to do today, is delve into that question a little bit more, try to understand the nature of the question, what exactly are we asking when we ask about the status of morality. And they move onto three very general types of approaches that philosophers have taken to this question. So one of these approaches I'll call objectivism. The idea that we are representing objective facts when we make moral judgments. Another approach is relativism. The idea that we're describing some kind of cultural or personal relative practices when we make these judgments. And the third idea is emotivism that we're expressing our emotions towards the world when we make these judgments. So those would be the three general types of theories we'll talk about today after I introduce the topic and then we'll think a little bit about objections and replies to those theories. One more comment before we get into the issues. I'll be using examples of particular moral judgments as we go along and I've chosen controversial examples on purpose. I want you to see through the controversy why it's important to think about the status of morality. So some of the examples will be controversial and some of them you might disagree with. That's fine. Today's question is not whether these particular judgments are right or wrong, but what we're doing when we make these judgments. What is their status? So at a later point in the lecture, I'll ask you to come up with some examples of your own. And controversial examples are good. They help us to think about the status of morality. So today we're talking about the status of morality, the status of moral judgments. What we doing when we judge things are good or bad, right or wrong, virtuous or vicious? One way to get our heads around the question is to generate two lists and compare and contrast these lists. So want I want to do now is generate a list of empirical judgement. Judgements about the empirically discoverable world. And a list of moral judgements. Judgements about what's right and wrong, good and bad, etc. So one way to think about an empirical judgement is to think about something that was discovered, a scientific discovery. Here's a really famous scientific discovery, the Earth rotates from the Sun. Of course for many much of human history, people didn't believe that. They thought the Sun rotated around the Earth or they had some other cosmological theory but Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo discovered that the Earth rotates around the Sun and developed our contemporary cosmological theory of how we understand the orbits of the planets. The judgment the Earth rotates around the Sun, that's an empirical judgment. Or the judgment that electricity has positive and negative charges discovered by Benjamin Franklin explains the flow of electricity. That judgment is a judgment about the empirical world. Or consider Mendel's discovery that plants inherit some of their traits genetically based on certain laws of inheritance. That judgement, that plants inherit some of their traits genetically is an empirical judgment, judgment about the empirical world. Or here's the final, more contemporary example. Recently it was discovered that the so-called God particle, predicted by Edinburgh's own professor Peter Higgs exists. That seems to be an empirical discovery about a fundamental piece of the universe. But in order to get empirical judgments on our list, we don't have to have these very impressive scientific discoveries. We can also just think of more everyday judgments like the judgment that lead is heavier than iron, or the judgment quite simply that it was sunny today at Edinburgh. Or even the judgment that I, Matthew Kristman, am less than six feet tall. All of these are empirical judgments. Judgments that we can verify by empirical observation. Okay, now for our second list, moral judgments. To generate some examples of moral judgements we can think about positive moral things like giving to charity is good. Or taking care of your children is morally obligatory. These are examples of positive moral judgements. We can add to that list, something like protesting, something you take to be a gross injustice is morally right. That would be a moral judgement. Of course, more often, actually I think we make negative moral judgements. So we say things like, Cain's killing Abel out of jealousy was morally bad, was wrong. Or Oedipus' sleeping with his mother Jocasta was morally bad. That would be a moral judgement. Or, something like Pol Potts genocidal actions during the Camargue Regime in Cambodia was morally abhorrent, genocide is morally abhorrent. Those would be moral judgements. Or finally a much more controversial one, polygamy, the practice of one man having multiple wives or one woman having multiple husbands is morally dubious. These are the types of judgements that we can put on our list as moral judgements. Okay, so we've come up with two lists. A list of empirical judgements and a list of moral judgements. Some of the items on our list are quite controversial. So what I want you to do now is try to come up with some examples of your own. They can be controversial examples or examples that you take to be obvious. But come up with two examples of each type, two examples of empirical judgements about the empirically discoverable world and examples of moral judgements about things like what's right and wrong, good and bad, virtuous, vicious, etc. We'll take a second here and let you come up with these examples. It'd be helpful for you to write them down on a piece of paper so that you can refer to them in the rest of this lecture. Okay, hopefully, you have your own examples. Two examples of empirical judgements and two examples of moral judgements. Or, if you want some more time, or time to think about it, you can push pause in the video now. For the rest of the lecture I'm going to focus on examples from my list. Two examples of empirical judgements and two examples of moral judgements. So here are the two examples of empirical judgements I'll use. The sun rotates around the earth. And, It was sunny in Edinburgh today. And here are two examples of moral judgements that I'll use. Genocide is morally wrong or morally abhorrent and polygamy is morally dubious. So focus on those as examples of moral judgements. But you can also think about your own examples and ask the same sorts of questions we're going to ask about these about your examples. So now what we've been doing is coming up with these examples in order to better understand the question about the status of morality. I think the best way into that is to now ask some questions about these two lists. So many philosophers and I think many ordinary people have felt that there's an important difference between the types of judgements that go under the heading empirical judgements, and the types of judgements that go under the heading moral judgements. They feel like there's something importantly different between these two things. So one thing we could ask, the first question I'll ask is, are these judgements the sorts of things that can be true or false? So in the case of empirical judgements, it's quite natural to say yes, of course. Whereas some philosophers of thought, in the case of moral judgment, that they're not the sort of thing that can be true or false. They are mere opinions or mere expressions of our emotions. Now other philosophers and other people have thought, no that's not right. There's still a difference but that's not the difference. So we ask a second question. If moral judgements are like empirical judgements and that they can be true or false, what makes them true or false? In the empirical case you might think its something about the objective human independent facts. What is in the moral case? And now we could ask a third question. Are they objectively true or false. So, you might think the difference between these two lists is no they're not objectively true or false. Moral judgements are not objectively true or false. They're only true or false relative to a culture or a person or sensibility or something like that now that's the kind of second group of philosophers that I'll talk about. The third group of philosophers that I'll talk about deny both of these initial ideas and say moral judgements are the sorts of things that can be true or false. And they're also the sorts of things that can be made true of false by objective facts that are objectively true or false. They aspire to objectivity just like empirical judgments. So what I'm want to do for the rest of this lecture is talk about these three philosophical approaches to the status of morality. We're talking about the objective's idea that moral judgments are just as objective as empirical judgements. And then we'll talk about the relative's idea that moral judgements are importantly different than empirical judgements in that they are relativised somehow. And finally, we'll talk about the emotivist idea that moral judgements aren't the sorts of things that can be true or false. They are mere opinions or expressions of our emotions. We'll explore some of the advantages and disadvantages of each of these theories. And consider some of the objections that proponents of one or another theory levy against the other theories. That's the plan for the rest of the lecture.