Chat with us, powered by LiveChat PHIL 112 North Carolina Moral Skepticism Final Essay | Abc Paper

– The instruction for the Final Essay Prospectus is attached below- Also attached are two documents about Moral Skepticism. Both can be used as sources of information.



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PHIL 112: Making Sense of Ourselves (Spring 2019)
Instructions for Final Essay Prospectus
As you know, there will not be any assigned essay topics in this course. Instead, you will submit a 1
page, single-spaced (approximately 500 words) prospectus of the final essay you plan to write. Your
final essay can either be on Moral Scepticism, Natal Scepticism, or Inductive Scepticism. Your
prospectus is due on Sakai by April 17 @ 11:59pm. It is worth 10% of your final grade. Late
submissions will be penalized at a rate of 1/3 alpha grade per 24-hour period (e.g. from B- to C+).
As before, the basic structure of your prospectus should be as follows:
Something Clear and Informative
First Paragraph: this must tell me three things: i) the topic of your paper; ii) the main
question you are you addressing in your paper; and iii) the thesis (or tentative thesis)
of your paper. E.g., This paper will address an issue about […]. Specifically,
who/what/where/why/how is the […]? I suggest that […]. Etc.
Second Paragraph: this must spell out i), ii), and iii) in more detail. Where does the
problem come from? What is the context? What do we need to understand about the
texts to understand the problem you’re addressing? Is the question a prominent one
that you have your own perspective on? Is it a minor issue that you think is
underexplored? Is there a particular debate you’re addressing? Are you defending a
particular side? Etc.
Third Paragraph: this must indicate the sources you will draw upon in your essay. Use
prose form (not point form) and indicate sources using in-line citations. E.g., This
question has been raised before (Source). Solutions to this problem have also been
proposed (Source) and (Source). Etc.
You can use the following as a rough guide for your own midterm prospectus:
A Critique of Fricker’s View of Wronging
In my essay I will provide a critical examination of Miranda Fricker’s view of
‘wronging’, as seen in her book Epistemic Injustice. While Fricker argues that there is no
perpetrator for hermeneutical injustice, I think that this point is in tension with her
characterization of hermeneutical injustice as a particular epistemic wrong. I will argue
that, according to the standard account of wronging, there are in fact perpetrators of
wrongings, so if Fricker’s account is unable to accommodate this desideratum then it
is therefore deficient.
In Epistemic Injustice Fricker lays out two types of injustice. She suggests that these two
injustices have not yet received sustained philosophical attention. The two types are
epistemic injustice, on the one hand, and hermeneutical injustice, on the other.
Epistemic injustice (sometimes called testimonial injustice) is when a speaker is
afforded less credibility then they are owed simply on account of their social position,
race, gender, etc. And hermeneutical injustice is when one’s social experience is
obscured from collective understanding, which then results in one struggling to make
their experiences understood (both to themselves, and to others). The final result of
hermeneutical injustice is that the agent receives less credibility then they deserve,
hence the injustice. In my essay I will focus solely on hermeneutical injustice. In
particular, I will take issue with Fricker’s claim that while hermeneutical injustice is a
particular epistemic wrong, there is (as she says) no perpetrator of this wronging. I will
argue that, on the standard account of ‘wronging’ there is a dyadic relation to wronging:
in order to be ‘wronged’, there must be someone who ‘does the wronging’. Cases
where this second relata is missing should, therefore, not be characterized ‘wrongings’
or ‘injustices’. Without resolving this problem, Fricker’s identification of
heremeneutical injustice as a new type of injustice is, I conclude, deficient. At the end
of the paper I will propose a charitable interpretation that may solve this problem.
In my essay I will draw primarily from Fricker’s Epistemic Injustice (2007). Because my
essay is a critical examination of hermeneutical injustice, I will focus on Chapter 7. To
support my presentation of ‘wronging’ as dyadic, I will draw from Schein & Gray
(2018) and their so-called “theory of dyadic morality”.
J. L. Mackie – The Subjectivity of Values
Moral Scepticism
There are no objective values. […]
The following excerpt is from Mackie’s “The Subjectivity of
Values,” originally published in 1977 as the first chapter in his
book, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong.
The claim that values are not objective, are not part of
the fabric of the world, is meant to include not only moral
goodness, which might be most naturally equated with moral
value, but also other things that could be more loosely called
moral values or disvalues—rightness and wrongness, duty,
obligation, an action’s being rotten and contemptible, and so
on. It also includes non-moral values, notably aesthetic ones,
beauty and various kinds of artistic merit. […]
Guiding Questions:
1. What does Mackie mean when he says that there are no
objective values? What does he not mean?
2. What is an “error theory”?
3. What is the argument from relativity? What are some
responses and what are Mackie’s replies?
4. What is the argument from queerness—both its
metaphysical and epistemological components?
Since it is with moral values that I am primarily
concerned, the view I am adopting may be called moral
scepticism. But this name is likely to be misunderstood: “moral
scepticism” might also be used as a name for either of two first
order views, or perhaps for an incoherent mixture of the two. A
moral sceptic might be the sort of person who says “All this
talk of morality is tripe,” who rejects morality and will take no
notice of it. Such a person may be literally rejecting all moral
judgements; he is more likely to be making moral judgements
of his own, expressing a positive moral condemnation of all
that conventionally passes for morality; or he may be confusing
these two logically incompatible views, and saying that he
rejects all morality, while he is in fact rejecting only a
particular morality that is current in the society in which he has
grown up. But I am not at present concerned with the merits or
faults of such a position. These are first order moral views,
positive or negative: the person who adopts either of them is
taking a certain practical, normative, stand. By contrast, what I
am discussing is a second order view, a view about the status
of moral values and the nature of moral valuing, about where
and how they fit into the world. These first and second order
views are not merely distinct but completely independent: one
could be a second order moral sceptic without being a first
order one, or again the other way round. A man could hold
strong moral views, and indeed ones whose content was
thoroughly conventional, while believing that they were simply
attitudes and policies with regard to conduct that he and other
people held. Conversely, a man could reject all established
morality while believing it to be an objective truth that it was
evil or corrupt. […]
applications of one categorical imperative, and it can plausibly
be maintained at least that many moral judgements contain a
categorically imperative element. So far as ethics is concerned,
my thesis that there are no objective values is specifically the
denial that any such categorically imperative element is
objectively valid. The objective values which I am denying
would be action-directing absolutely, not contingently (in the
way indicated) upon the agent’s desires and inclinations. […]
Hypothetical and Categorical Imperatives
The Claim to Objectivity
We may make this issue clearer by referring to Kant’s
distinction between hypothetical and categorical imperatives,
though what he called imperatives are more naturally expressed
as “ought”-statements than in the imperative mood. “If you
want X, do Y” (or “You ought to do Y”) will be a hypothetical
imperative if it is based on the supposed fact that Y is, in the
circumstances, the only (or the best) available means to X, that
is, on a causal relation between Y and X. The reason for doing
Y lies in its causal connection with the desired end, X; the
oughtness is contingent upon the desire. But “You ought to do
Y” will be a categorical imperative if you ought to do Y
irrespective of any such desire for any end to which Y would
contribute, if the oughtness is not thus contingent upon any
[..] As I have said, the main tradition of European moral
philosophy includes the… claim, that there are objective values
of just the sort I have denied. […] Kant in particular holds that
the categorical imperative is not only categorical and
imperative but objectively so: though a rational being gives the
moral law to himself, the law that he thus makes is determinate
and necessary. Aristotle begins the Nicomachean Ethics by
saying that the good is that at which all things aim, and that
ethics is part of a science which he calls “politics,” whose goal
is not knowledge but practice; yet he does not doubt that there
can be knowledge of what is the good for man, nor, once he has
identified this as well-being or happiness, eudaimonia, that it
can be known, rationally determined, in what happiness
consists; and it is plain that he thinks that this happiness is
intrinsically desirable, not good simply because it is desired.
A categorical imperative, then, would express a reason
for acting which was unconditional in the sense of not being
contingent upon any present desire of the agent to whose
satisfaction the recommended action would contribute as a
means—or more directly: “You ought to dance,” if the implied
reason is just that you want to dance or like dancing, is still a
hypothetical imperative. Now Kant himself held that moral
judgements are categorical imperatives, or perhaps are all
I conclude, then, that ordinary moral judgements
include a claim to objectivity, an assumption that there are
objective values in just the sense in which I am concerned to
deny this. And I do not think it is going too far to say that this
assumption has been incorporated in the basic, conventional,
meanings of moral terms. Any analysis of the meanings of
moral terms which omits this claim to objective, intrinsic,
prescriptivity is to that extent incomplete…
another and from one period to another, and also the
differences in moral beliefs between different groups and
classes within a complex community. Such variation is in itself
merely a truth of descriptive morality, a fact of anthropology
which entails neither first order nor second order ethical views.
Yet it may indirectly support second order subjectivism: radical
differences between first order moral judgements make it
difficult to treat those judgements as apprehensions of
objective truths. But it is not the mere occurrence of
disagreements that tells against the objectivity of values.
Disagreement on questions in history or biology or cosmology
does not show that there are no objective issues in these fields
for investigators to disagree about. But such scientific
disagreement results from speculative inferences or
explanatory hypotheses based on inadequate evidence, and it is
hardly plausible to interpret moral disagreement in the same
way. Disagreement about moral codes seems to reflect people’s
adherence to and participation in different ways of life. The
causal connection seems to be mainly that way round: it is that
people approve of monogamy because they participate in a
monogamous way of life rather than that they participate in a
monogamous way of life because they approve of monogamy.
Of course, the standards may be an idealization of the way of
life from which they arise; the monogamy in which people
participate may be less complete, less rigid, than that of which
it leads them to approve. This is not to say that moral
judgements are purely conventional. Of course there have been
and are moral heretics and moral reformers, people who have
turned against the established rules and practices of their own
communities for moral reasons, and often for moral reasons
that we would endorse. But this can usually be understood as
the extension, in ways which, though new and unconventional,
seemed to them to be required for consistency, of rules to
If second order ethics were confined, then, to linguistic
and conceptual analysis, it ought to conclude that moral values
at least are objective: that they are so is part of what our
ordinary moral statements mean: the traditional moral concepts
of the ordinary man as well as of the main line of western
philosophers are concepts of objective value. But it is precisely
for this reason that linguistic and conceptual analysis is not
enough. The claim to objectivity, however ingrained in our
language and thought, is not self-validating. It can and should
be questioned. But the denial of objective values will have to
be put forward not as the result of an analytic approach, but as
an “error theory,” a theory that although most people in making
moral judgements implicitly claim, among other things, to be
pointing to something objectively prescriptive, these claims are
all false, it is this that makes the name “moral scepticism’’
But since this is an error theory, since it goes against
assumptions ingrained in our thought and built into some of the
ways in which language is used, since it conflicts with what is
sometimes called common sense, it needs very solid support. It
is not something we can accept lightly or casually and then
quietly pass on. If we are to adopt this view, we must argue
explicitly for it. Traditionally it has been supported by
arguments of two main kinds, which I shall call the argument
from relativity and the argument from queerness…
The Argument from Relativity
The argument from relativity has as its premiss the
well-known variation in moral codes from one society to
which they already adhered as arising out of an existing way of
life. In short, the argument from relativity has some force
simply because the actual variations in the moral codes are
more readily explained by the hypothesis that they reflect ways
of life than by the hypothesis that they express perceptions,
most of them seriously inadequate and badly distorted, of
objective values.
sorts of actions would have been right. And despite the
prominence in recent philosophical ethics of universalization,
utilitarian principles, and the like, these are very far from
constituting the whole of what is actually affirmed as basic in
ordinary moral thought. Much of this is concerned rather with
what Hare calls “ideals” or, less kindly, “fanaticism.” That is,
people judge that some things are good or right, and others are
bad or wrong, not because—or at any rate not only because—
they exemplify some general principle for which widespread
implicit acceptance could be claimed, but because something
about those things arouses certain responses immediately in
them, though they would arouse radically and irresolvably
different responses in others. “Moral sense” or “intuition” is an
initially more plausible description of what supplies many of
our basic moral judgements than “reason.” With regard to all
these starting points of moral thinking the argument from
relativity remains in full force.
But there is a well-known counter to this argument
from relativity, namely to say that the items for which
objective validity is in the first place to be claimed are not
specific moral rules or codes but very general basic principles
which are recognized at least implicitly to some extent in all
society—such principles as provide the foundations of what
Sidgwick has called different methods of ethics: the principle
of universalizability, perhaps, or the rule that one ought to
conform to the specific rules of any way of life in which one
takes part, from which one profits, and on which one relies, or
some utilitarian principle of doing what tends, or seems likely,
to promote the general happiness. It is easy to show that such
general principles, married with differing concrete
circumstances, different existing social patterns or different
preferences, will beget different specific moral rules; and there
is some plausibility in the claim that the specific rules thus
generated will vary from community to community or from
group to group in close agreement with the actual variations in
accepted codes.
The Argument from Queerness
Even more important, however, and certainly more
generally applicable, is the argument from queerness. This has
two parts, one metaphysical, the other epistemological. If there
were objective values, then they would be entities or qualities
or relations of a very strange sort, utterly different from
anything else in the universe. Correspondingly, if we were
aware of them, it would have to be by some special faculty of
moral perception or intuition, utterly different from our
ordinary ways of knowing everything else. These points were
recognized by Moore when he spoke of non-natural qualities,
and by the intuitionists in their talk about a “faculty of moral
intuition.” Intuitionism has long been out of favour, and it is
indeed easy to point out its implausibilities. What is not so
The argument from relativity can be only partly
countered in this way. To take this line the moral objectivist
has to say that it is only in these principles that the objective
moral character attaches immediately to its descriptively
specified ground or subject: other moral judgements are
objectively valid or true, but only derivatively and
contingently—if things had been otherwise, quite different
alien stressed, but is more important, is that the central thesis of
intuitionism is one to which any objectivist view of values is in
the end committed: intuitionism merely makes unpalatably
plain what other forms of objectivism wrap up. Of course the
suggestion that moral judgements are made or moral problems
solved by just sitting down and having an ethical intuition is a
travesty of actual moral thinking. But, however complex the
real process, it will require (if it is to yield authoritatively
prescriptive conclusions) some input of this distinctive soil,
either premisses or forms of argument or both. When we ask
the awkward question, how we can be aware of this
authoritative prescriptivity, of the truth of these distinctively
ethical premisses or of the cogency of this distinctively ethical
pattern of reasoning, none of our ordinary accounts of sensory
perception or introspection or the framing and confirming of
explanatory hypotheses or inference or logical construction or
conceptual analysis, or any combination of these, will provide
a satisfactory answer; “a special son of intuition” is a lame
answer, but it is the one to which the clearheaded objectivist is
compelled to resort.
This is an important counter to the argument from
queerness. The only adequate reply to it would be to show
how, on empiricist foundations, we can construct an account of
the ideas and beliefs and knowledge that we have of all these
matters. I cannot even begin to do that here, though I have
undertaken some parts of the task elsewhere. I can only state
my belief that satisfactory accounts of most of these can be
given in empirical terms. If some supposed metaphysical
necessities or essences resist such treatment, then they too
should be included, along with objective values, among the
targets of the argument from queerness. […]
Plato’s Forms give a dramatic picture of what objective
values would have to be. The form of the Good is such that
knowledge of it provides the knower with both a direction and
an overriding motive; …
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