The, By David Hume

Decent Essays

The “is-ought” dilemma, first expressed by David Hume, says that one cannot derive an ought from what is, a prescriptive statement stating how one should act based on what exist. An attempt to refute this challenge is expressed by the hypothetical. If someone desires x and in order to get to x this person must do y, then one ought to do you y. The problem with that assertion is that in the absence of x one would have no reason to do y, and thus y is reliant on x, and not a value in and of itself. So y as an ought statement has no inherent value, and is thus subjective to x. ”...‘ought’ seldom, if ever, in ordinary use, refers to such supposed intrinsic requirements alone; it typically refers also to reasons or requirements of at least one of the other sorts, the intrinsic requirements being seen as backing them up” (Mackie, “Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong” L.1120). “…although most people in making moral judgements implicitly claim, among other things, to be pointing to something objectively prescriptive, these claims are all false” (Mackie, “Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong” L.450).
“[i]f there were objective values, then they would be entities or qualities or relations of a very strange sort, utterly different from anything else in the universe. Correspondingly, if we were aware of them, it would have to be by some special faculty of moral perception or intuition, utterly different from our ordinary ways of knowing everything else” (Mackie, “Ethics: Inventing Right

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