Moral Realism -or- it’s a really light telescope

is is a really light telescope



  • Moral Realism - An ethical theory that claims objective moral facts exist.
    • This view has to deal with how we learn these moral facts.
    • We can't observe them with our sense.
    • Yet, any other way of discovering a moral claim seems to require a previous moral claim.
      • An all powerful-being told us to smile when happy.
      • We ought to believe an all-powerful being.
      • We ought to smile when happy.


  1. thad Says:

    One response is to say there are some core moral principles that we are born knowing. From these core principles one might be able to build an entire moral system.

    However, this approach has to deal with the apparent diversity of morals among people.

  2. Jacob Wintersmith Says:

    I feel like I’m missing some pun on “light telescope”…

  3. thad Says:

    Nope. I served this one straight up.
    I don’t think there is a pun. I just thought it was funny that the guy was holding the huge telescope with one arm. 🙂

  4. Solanum Tuberosum Says:

    Morals are anything that benefits the species as a whole. It’s essentially what stops humans from being too self-concerned, and from killing millions of people for a penny.

  5. Winter’s Haven » Thad Guy on Moral Realism Says:

    […] Thad Guy discusses objective morality, in his usual brilliantly succinct fashion. […]

  6. Milo Says:

    So you seem to hold the tacit assumption that there are no objective moral values.

    So the statement “The unwarranted gratuitous torture of young children is morally wrong,” is not true or false?

    You don’t think that maybe, there are some objective facts about morality? Perhaps they’re just not readily accessible?

  7. Jacob Wintersmith Says:

    Milo, Thad isn’t tacitly assuming that there are no objective moral values; he openly arguing in favor of moral subjectivism.

    As a moral subjectivist myself, I would agree that “torture is morally wrong” but point out that my notion of morally wrong is quite different from the standard realist notion. (This is why moral subjectivism is sometimes referred to as a meta-ethical position. Of course, one’s meta-ethical views do have a big impact on one’s ethical views.)

    So, no, I don’t think that there are any objective facts about morality. And unless you have a better idea about how to obtain knowledge of these supposed moral facts, they appear to be completely inaccessible. (The relationship between epistemology and ontology is a bit murky here. I would simply observe that real-but-inaccessible moral facts couldn’t affect human behavior or in any way play the role that moral realists want them to play.)