Key Ethical Concepts

How does Moral Philosophy work?

Lesson Objectives

Understand the centrality of the question of whether moral facts exist

Explore whether it's even possible to make moral claims in the first place

Appreciate why someone might claim ethics exists, but is dependent on us

Understand the strengths and weaknesses of Cultural Relativism

Appreciate why someone might claim ethics exists independent of us

Understand the basic structure of a philosophical claim

Key Terms

Moral Facts

Moral Nihilism


Cultural Relativism

The Grounding Problem of Ethics

Proving Ethics

Is Ethics Provable like Science?

• Can we "prove" Ethics the way we "prove" science?

• Science is proven through experimentation

• Ethics is proven through analysis and logical debate

• But the shape of the Ethical landscape (like Science) is complex

     • Science makes objective claims (Eg. Earth goes 'round the Sun)

     • Can Ethics also make objective claims?

Can an Ethical Statement be Objectively True?

• Moral Objectivists: Yes! Morality exists, independent of our wishes

• Moral Subjectivists: No, b/c morality is an extension of self or culture

• Moral Nihilists: No, because morality isn't real

Do Moral Facts Exist? (Eg. It's a fact that murder is wrong.)

• A Moral Fact is an ethical claim that can be proven to be true

• Moral Realists: Yes! Like Science, Moral Facts can be discovered          • Moral Realism | CrashCourse vid: 9min

     • Moral Objectivists & Subjectivists are both Moral Realists     

• Moral Antirealists: No! There's only moral opinions and traditions

     • Nothing is 'inherently wrong' (cf. Moral Nihilism)

     • It's foolish to think of Ethics as an objective project