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Dunedin’s Moral Decline

August 28, 2009

poop.jpg.w300h286Leading advocate of The Dunedin School, Deane Galbraith attempts to argue against moral objectivism. However his main argument appears to be that he suspects that moral commitments will remain unchanged regardless of our metaethical beliefs. He comments

“I mean, imagine if a dietician got up and said, “You’ve got to believe in objectively yummy food, or we’ll all end up eating each other’s poo.” Who would take the slightest bit of notice of such lunacy? But change the terms to those of ethics and you get all manner of people prophesying the moral equivalent of universal coprophagy”

Deane is right about the way moral beliefs are resistant to change. However, this example begs the question. To treat moral convictions as analogous to taste in icecream would create as much absurdity in one direction (demanding objectivism in taste) as it does in the other direction (demanding subjectivism in ethical belief). The fact that moral judgements have an objective origin is, in my view, the main reason why widespread theoretical relativism does not in fact produce the ‘moral equivalent of coprophagy’.

It seems to me that moral objectivism is tacitly relied on in acts of moral commitment, and the presence of theoretical moral relativism indicative of a strange self-referential incoherence.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Deane Galbraith permalink
    August 28, 2009 9:18 pm

    I checked that post, and vehemently deny that I even attempted an argument at any stage. I was making fun throughout, gently mocking the posture of the righteous battalion of objective moralists. (‘Begging the question’ requires the attempt at an argument, but there wasn’t.)

    True moral commitment, one that is capable of overcoming injustices, must be wholly subjective. For th reification of ethics always leaves a fatal gap in commitment, so is a dead-end road.

  2. August 29, 2009 12:18 am

    Fair enough. It was gentle mockery rather than argument. However, the comments following in response to Andre caught you up into argument, I dare to suggest. As I say in my respone on your page, my point of disagreement lies in you inclusion of the word ‘wholly’ above.

  3. December 28, 2009 11:05 pm

    Funny, it appears that Deane got in trouble with the headmaster for his epic fail because that post and his other one attacking Matt, I mean Matt’s arguments against moral relativism, is no longer there.

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