Who Is Michael Smith's Argument In Support Of Moral Realism

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Shejuti Paul 10/27/14 Philsophy of Good and Evil Dr. May Moral realism describes a meta-ethical position that holds that moral facts and moral values exist, and that they are objectively truth-apt, regardless of what perceptions or attitudes we hold towards them (Sayre-McCord 2011). In “Realism,” Michael Smith attempts to save Realism from the Motivation Problem by arguing that moral judgements are judgments of right and wrong about what we have reason to do and reason not to do. I will argue that while Smith is on the right track to saving realism, his views on moral convergence are doubtful. I will begin by outlining David Hume’s “Moral Argument”. I will present Smith’s argument in support of realism. Lastly, I will discuss moral…show more content…
A belief is a mental state where a person holds a particular proposition. Hume describes beliefs as the product of reason. An example of a belief would be the mental state I am in when I believe that water is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. In contrast, desires is a propositional attitude that expresses something a person wants. An example of a desire would be my propositional attitude that I want a puppy. Hume states that desire is the product of passion. A key distinction between a belief and a desire is their “direction of fit.” To put it simply, the function of a belief is to fit to accurately represent reality. The function of a desire is to get reality to fit to it. Another important difference is whether belief or desire can be rationally assessed. Beliefs are truth-apt. They can be evaluated to be true or false propositions. Desires cannot be rationally critiqued and are not truth-apt. These key differences play a role in understanding Hume’s “ Moral Argument” against…show more content…
(C ) So moral judgements cannot be “derived from reason alone” (Hume pg 10). Humes says that if subject S accepts a moral judgement, S is motivated to usually if not always act in accordance with this moral judgement. Genuine beliefs cannot motivate. They do not compel a person to action. Consider the following example: I believe that the cafeteria is serving macaroni and cheese today. Will my belief provide motivation to go to the cafeteria for lunch? No. I have to desire macaroni and cheese. My desire propels me to action. My belief provides a means to fulfil my desire. The view that beliefs alone cannot motivate is sometimes called Humeanism. Humeanism presents a problem for realism because it expresses an inconsistency between the triad of claims that makes up realism. Realism is characterized by the following three components: success theory which states that moral judgements are not systemically false objectivism which states that moral claims are sometimes true, independent of what people may think about them. cognitivism which states that moral judgements sometimes express moral beliefs about the world (May

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