Subjectivism

  • Michael Huemer

Abstract

Subjectivists take moral properties to be reducible to psychological properties and relations. They think that for an object to be good is for some person or group to have (or be disposed to have) some psychological attitude or reaction towards it. Here are a few examples of subjectivist theories; in each case, the ‘=’ sign indicates that the expression on the right explains what it is for the expression on the left hand side to be true:1
  1. a)

    x is good = The speaker believes that x is good.

     
  2. b)

    x is good = The speaker approves of x.

     
  3. c)

    x is right = Society approves of x.

     
  4. d)

    x is right = x accords with God’s wishes.2

     

Theories (a) and (b) make morality relative to the individual; that is, they imply that two different individuals may correctly call different things ‘good’. According to (a), when I say something is good, I mean that I believe it is good; when you say something is good, you mean that you believe it is good. Theory (c) makes morality relative to a culture; it implies that members of different societies may correctly call different things ‘right’, though two members of a single society may not.

Keywords

Posit Boulder Ather Mora Alse 

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Copyright information

© Michael Huemer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Huemer

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