Exploring Ontology

It's all about the deep questions.

Moral Error Theory: Some Essential Features of Morality

One essential property of morality is that it delivers “ought” statements. For example, according to the dictates of morality, one shouldn’t torture kids for the fun of it. But what kind of an imperative is this? A distinction should be drawn between hypothetical imperatives and categorical imperatives. Hypothetical imperatives can take the form of an if-then statement. For example, if you want to look attractive, you should exercise more. For those who really don’t care all that much about being attractive, the hypothetical imperative doesn’t apply. Common-senses morality is nothing like this, however. Common-sense morallity utilizes categorical imperatives to say something like: regardless of your personal beliefs or desires, you should not torture kids for fun. Another essential property of morality is that it is universally binding. One cannot opt-out of morality like one can opt-out from joining a club. Finally, another feature of morality, although one can debate whether it is an essential feature, is that it is supposed to be intrinsically motivating. This motivation can be overridden, but it is still motivating. If some act is morally good, then upon learning that a rational agent should acquire some defeasible motivation for doing it. My position is that morality is in error for holding itself up to such a high position. One of the major reasons is the Humean Theory of Motivation.


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