In His Discussion Of The Theory Of Ethical Subjectivism,

1013 WordsMar 10, 20175 Pages
In his discussion of the theory of ethical subjectivism, Russ Shafer-Landau posits an objection which is meant to show that subjectivism cannot account for situations in which we question whether or not our approvals are morally right (296). In the objection, the words “right”, “worthwhile”, and “value” are treated as interchangeable terms (Shafer-Landau, 296). Similarly, Shafer-Landau treats “approve of”, “committed to”, and “like” as equivalent phrases (296). For simplification, I will rely solely on the first set of terms Shafer-Landau uses (i.e. “right” and “approve of”). Although I am only using one set of terms, it is important to note that the objection I will posit can be equally applied to the other sets of terms as well.…show more content…
To thoroughly understand subjectivism, it is important to consider how we decide what ethical views to agree with. When faced with two different ethical views, we gather our knowledge and experiences of each of the views together and compare them. Then we use our best judgement on the comparison to choose the ethical view that aligns most with our knowledge and experience. According to subjectivism, the view we choose becomes morally right for us (Shafer-Landau, 296). Further, it is important to note that our knowledge and experiences regarding ethical views can change over time. This means that our approval of an ethical view can change as well. The realization that our approval of ethical views can change may seem like a threat to subjectivism, but it is not. When my knowledge and experience regarding an ethical view changes, I enter a state of contemplation regarding that particular ethical view. By “state of contemplation”, I mean a state in which I do not know whether I agree or disagree with the ethical view in question. Remember that in subjectivism, the ethical views I agree with are the morally right views (Shafer-Landau, 296). When I am in a state of contemplation, I no longer know what is morally right because I no longer know what view best aligns with my knowledge and experience. Subjectivism can allow for states of contemplation because they are states in which we have suspended judgement of what is morally right. We now have two states in our sights.

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