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Ethical Reading webinar: Are there moral facts?

February 28, 2020 @ 1.00 pm - 1.30 pm

“It is wrong to bribe an official, and that’s a fact!” But is it? Suppose someone disagrees, perhaps because the bribe on offer is of very little value and offering it is the only way to get the work done. It seems there is no way of proving who is right. Are we still so sure there is a fact of the matter here? Many people, and some philosophers, think that moral disagreement like this undermines the view that there are objective moral facts. This is because they think that such disagreement is best explained by assuming that there is nothing to disagree about. If there were, then people’s views would tend to converge more than they do.

Such scepticism about moral facts sometimes leads people to suppose that morality is subjective – that is, that people’s judgements about what is good or bad, right or wrong, merely report how they feel about certain actions. You disapprove of bribes, and the other person does not, and the disagreement involves one person reporting that they disapprove of the bribes, and the other reporting that they do not.

Phillip will argue that moral disagreement not only fails to support this subjectivist view, but undermines it. What disagreement shows, is that we are committed to the view that there are moral facts.

Joining the webinar

We will be using Microsoft Teams for the webinar. Upon registration, you will receive a confirmation email. Please scroll to the bottom of the email to the ‘Additional Information’ section to see instructions for joining the webinar.

About the speaker: Professor Phillip Stratton-Lake, University of Reading

Philip Stratton-Lake is a professor of philosophy at the University of Reading. He is the author of Kant, Duty, and Moral Worth, and is the editor of the 2002 edition of W. D. Ross’s The Right and the Good. He has also edited books on Ethical Intuitionism, and Scanlon’s moral philosophy, and has published papers on normative ethics, metaethics, and moral epistemology.

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