Sunday, February 25, 2007



THE PHILOSOPHY OF MORAL REALISM states that moral Values exist objectively and independently of the human mind - and our subjective actions, thoughts, ideas and beliefs discover (rather than create) those moral Values.

Thus, our actions, thoughts, ideas and beliefs can be objectively right or wrong - independently good or bad - whether we subjectively believe they are, or not.

Values are real - such as Truth, Beauty and Goodness.

What is 'real' serves as an objective 'other' - independent of ourselves - against which we can test and measure our subjective actions, thoughts, ideas and beliefs.

It is, therefore, always possible that our actions, thoughts, ideas and beliefs could be wrong, mistaken, and in error...

Tarski's Correspondence Theory of Truth, Popper's Scientific Method and Joad's Transcendence-Immanence Theory, are closely associated with this Philosophy of Moral Realism & Values.

THE SYMONDS MEGA MOTIVATION THEORY ('THE MEGA THEORY') states that we are motivated by seven ultimate Values (Mega Motivations), of which we can conceive of nothing greater :


The Theory further states that we are motivated by that which we most value; if we discover what we value, we will discover what motivates us. 'The Anselm Acid Test' is used to discover what we most value; and thus we can discover what motivates us.

I have recently swung towards a benign moral relativism. I recommend this website because the author is clearly a fellow believer in moral realism:

What I don't understand about your view is why you need to have objective values in the world. Is it not more plausible to view the seven values as abstractions which we use and develop to help understand our existence? There is so much disagreement about what is Beautiful and Moral that an objective truth about such qualities appears not to be discoverable, unlike the truths of a future unified physics. How much progress has been made in morality or aesthetics in discovering this truth? I'm fascinated to hear more.
Thanks for your post, Toby.

You ask : Why do we need to have objective values in the world ?

Mmmmm...give me some thinking time on that one....but my immediate response is that some exceedingly unshallow people through time thought it Plato (Forms).

"Moral Minds" by Marc Hauser looks interesting...making a case for a Moral Instinct (much like the Pinker/Chomsky Language Instinct).
I don't buy the response from authority because the fact that Plato may have thought something a good idea doesn't reinforce it being a good idea. His arguments might, however.

Even if we do have a "moral instinct" surely that undermines the idea that morality is objective? According to this view if we have evolved to become immoral or moral beings then that is a consequence of evolution. My hunch is that means it is down to the survival of the fittest and moral tools such as stoicism are tossed to or invented by human beings who pick them up and use them to see which work. It doesn't seem to be objective but more what is practical. This may mean very different ideas at different times.
As I see it, at the moment, the moral instinct (and the language instinct) are 'created', rather than 'evolved' - and thus cannot be explained in terms of Darwinian evolution - 'survival of the fittest' and 'laws of natural selection' et al.

Chomsky draw this distinction in the philosophy of language : Snowflake (creation) or Giraffe's Head (evolution) ?

It's an interesting distinction....and I'm thinking out loud here...if our moral sense (and Values) is created like a snowflake...this might imply an objective 'other'...

Methinks it's worth looking at more closely...

Please don't think I'm being a 'know-it-all' here, Toby - far from it - it's just that we're navigating through uncharted waters...but it may be worth taking the voyage.
My hunch is that moral realism is strongly supported by those with a belief in god and I assume the point of view you are expressing also argues for this from your reference to "the other". Is that right?

How does this theory account for moral conflict?

Also, why does the moral instinct or the language instinct need to be created?

You are by no means being a know-all Richard, just arguing your case.
There is some truth to your "hunch" for sure, but I suppose it all depends what we mean by "God"...

Ultimate Values seem to be 'in conflict' - eg Mercy (Love) and Justice (Truth)...but this needs more investigating...
By the way Toby, if the moral/language instinct is 'created' like a snowflake, rather than 'evolved' like a giraffe's neck, it might blow your Moral Relativism out of the water :)
It would do. Yet to be fair I think relativism is fairly safe on that front. There is a vast amount of evidence needed to prove the existence of a creator.
No one can 'prove' there is a God, neither can anyone 'prove' there is no God.

I happen to (somewhat mischievously) believe that I am a spiritual being having a human experience, rather than a human being having a spiritual experience.

Nobody can 'prove' I'm wrong, just as I cannot 'prove' I'm right.

I suppose it has something to do with 'hunches'...

Moral Realism and Moral Relativism are clearly in conflict - both can't be right - or can they ?
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