“Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing” (Nietzsche, “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense” L. 10). There is no better way to begin this paper, for all the concepts that I write down are inherently trivial and hold no cosmological significance. The inevitable extinction of consciousness is impartial to this expression of my collective synapses. I hope that this seemingly morbid understanding of actual reality is wholly understood and accepted.
For it is the only logical conclusion (based on my current understanding) when analyzing the concepts of rationality and how they translate into morality and all moral truth claims. As a preface I will add that most of what I write is not original, it is merely my understandings, and interpretations. The conclusions I draw, and the parallels I illustrate, may not have been the intentions of the original authors. I attempt to really solely on logic and dismiss all of my preconceived dispositions. When examining the ? My thesis is such that, morality as we can understand it, cannot be valid as a truth and is not applicable. There are no objective morals” (Mackie, “Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong” L. 123). This is based on our faculty for understanding truth and the issues that are inherent faulty with our faculty.
“The claim that values are not objective, are not part of the fabric of the world, is meant to include not only moral goodness, which might be most naturally equated with moral value, but also other things that could be more loosely called moral values or disvalues – rightness and wrongness, duty, obligation, an action’s being rotten and contemptible, and so on” (Mackie “Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong” L. 33). This is very strong and consequential claim and so as such we must be able to prove this conclusion. In order to arrive at this conclusion on morality, we must begin with the fundamentals of understanding, rationality, morality, and finally, the human reality. For it is with these faculties that we that we attempt to make any moral claim. We must start at the beginning, at the origin of all moral claims, the search for the truth and what parameters an understanding of truth will nessecitate.
Let us begin by understanding what Nietzsche calls “man’s search for truth”. Nietzsche says “The drive toward the formation of metaphors (our societal concept of truth) is the fundamental human drive, which one cannot for a single instant dispense with in thought, for one would thereby dispense with man himself” (Nietzsche, “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense” L. 180). He explains that this drive to create a foundation of truth, in order to give our inconsequential existence an undeniable and reasonable sound purpose.
We will go on to explain why he refers to our understood truths, scornfully as “metaphors”, but we must understand that this search exists, and will continue to do so for as long as man strives for purpose, however baseless and unsound that purpose may be. The mere existence of a moral discussion can be a proof for the existence of a search for truth, for if there was no search why would discuss any metaphysical concepts.
Yet according to Nietzsche, this search has been perverted and the moral grounds of the world stand “on flowing water; [and] admittedly, in order to rest on such foundations, it has to be like a thing constructed from cobwebs (Spinnefaden), so delicate that it can be carried off on the waves and yet so firm as not to be blown apart by the wind. ” (Nietzsche, “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense” L. 120). He highlights our inability to come to a true understanding anything, for our language through which we come to these understandings, is inherently unreliable.
He draws a parable to the world leaf, where our understanding of the term leaf is baseless for there is no foundational “leaf” that every leaf is based on, and every leaf that is called “leaf” is not an actually true statement. He draws a parallel to any concept we have, where the concept and our use of it, has no foundation. He thus calls all of our “truths”: “metaphors”. He does this to illustrate that perceived truths are merely comparison to previous concepts and those concepts are also comparison to other previous concepts, that are originally unfounded.
Thus, all of our ideas are in essence essentially baseless. This is a problem in our understanding. Yet we live in world dictated by the metaphors in our language so, if we are to say for arguments sake, that the mere comparing of concepts to other concepts is enough grounds to form an idea and this idea can be understood well enough that it may be true in and of itself, then we have what to work with in order to search for the “truth”, which in our case is a true morality.
The epistemological foundations for this morality must be understood and accepted for my argument to have any value. You may elieve in divine right theory or you may have another foundation for a truthful moral claim and as such your foundations and understandings may have their own reasonable conclusion to truth. For this argument we will base our understanding of a truthful moral on the guidelines set forth by Immanuel Kant. Kant hopes that this establishment will “Settle, for sure and universally, what conduct will promote the happiness of a rational being” (Kant, “Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals” P. 22) Kant, called his set of code with which a true morality can be founded, the Categorical Imperative.
He established two main points on which this imperative would be founded. He said as a matter of ought we should “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law” (Kant. “Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals” P. 67). He also established the only principle on which morality can be based namely the claim that which is “synthetic a priori”. We must examine what “synthetic a priori” means, in order to understand what true moral claim necessitates. In the one there is something that backs up and validates some of the subjective concern which people have for things, in the other there is not. ” (Mackie, “Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong” L. 223).
An analytic as opposed to a synthetic claim, is one where the content of the claim is, generally by definition part of the subject. Such as the claim “A thief is someone who steals”, by definition a thief is someone who steals, so the claim isn’t asserting anything other than the obvious. Whilst, a synthetic claim is one where the content of the claim is not intrinsically obvious (i. . where the content of the claim isn’t self-explanatory within the subject itself). Such as the claim “All thieves are evil”, where (for arguments sake) evil isn’t necessarily the case for all thieves. So by definition all moral claims must be synthetic, since any moral claim is stating that we ought to do something from the situation that is. A “posteriori” claim is one that is based on our senses and cannot be known be reason alone. This is a claim such as “water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit”, it is scientifically true but it is not strictly founded on reason.
Whilst, a “priori” claim is one that is true based solely on reason. This is a claim such as “32 degrees Fahrenheit, is three degrees colder than 35 degrees Fahrenheit”, such a claim is true regardless of our understanding and empirical statements. Kant’s says that all moral claims are true when they are of synthetic a priori nature. This statement is undoubtable, for what it means, is that our morality must A, be a claim of ought, and B, must be objective, just as truth is objective.
This can be the only foundation for a true moral claim and any moral claim that doesn’t fall into the categories of A or B and within themselves false and refutable. Now that we have a foundation for a truthful moral let us examine why this concept of a truthful moral is just a dream and as far as we have come there is no true moral foundation. I will begin by challenging Kant first principle of the Categorical Imperative and then include with Kant claims that his first principle (his interpretation of the golden rule) is objectively true.
He falls into the same category as most other metaphysical philosophers who claim that there exist principles that are universalizable. Each have their own grounding. Jeremy Bentham the father utilitarianism, founded on the physiological fact that “Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. ” (Bentham, “An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation” 1. 1). (Even Bentham agrees that we are inherently faulty, as he says “… he rarest of all human qualities is consistency” (Bentham, “An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation” 1. 13). Our moral obligation is then to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. (I will only use utilitarianism as an example, for its philosophy seems to have a clear foundation. Though I am really challenging all metaphysical philosophies that attempt to claim an objective foundation. ) All of these moral theories that I have mentioned (and any other moral theory that is based on human judgements) are refutable for, and false, for the do not fit the bill of “synthetic a priori”.
I will now go on to explain several arguments that challenge the possible arguments for or ability to make a moral claim based on objectivity. They are as follows. One, they don’t answer the “is-ought” challenge, two they are based on the human experience, three (which is my own conclusion based on what I’ve read), they are all only applicable to rational humans (such with the ability to make moral judgements), and four, our capacity for universalizing a moral claim is impossible. This statement is the “bread and butter” of my argument. Most of my writing is based on the writings of other brilliant knowledge seekers, except for one. I do not profess to have a full enough understanding of what constitutes a true moral statement, so my one conclusion may be inaccurate, in which case, please disregard. Yet, that still doesn’t answer the four other challenges when one attempts to assert an objective moral claim).