Criticism to an objective morality - part 2


I address other forms of criticisms to the idea of objective morality I posted here. Also, in a previous post I talked about the problems of the relativist view.



Criticism: but things are good (or bad) for whom?

Throwing acid in the face of little girls just for going to school is something abhorrent. However, the critic of objective morality would say "it is abhorrent for whom?".

Answer: there are states of the universe that are preferable to other ones

There are two steps to address this criticism.
First, think of a society that pointlessly mistreats some of its members, e.g. throwing acid in the face of girls just for going to school. In this horrible case, things are bad for the girls themselves. But can we say that they are "objectively"  bad? To justify the objectivity of why doing that is bad, we can say that the state of a universe were these girls are not mistreated in that way is preferable to a state of the universe were this indeed happens. The "objective truth" of that is unveiled in an analogous way we discover logical or arithmetical truths, as I discuss in another post: "Arithmetical and moral truths".

Criticism: it is empathy, stupid!

It is empathy that makes us behave well towards others, but there are no objective rules.

Answer: empathy is what binds us to be moral

Empathy is precisely the mechanism we have to understand the pains or pleasures others might be feeling. Since we have that mechanism, objective moral rules apply to us and we ought to follow them.

Being a moral agent means understanding what the well-being of conscious creatures may feel like. If we have felt pain ourselves, thanks to our empathy we can understand what others may be feeling in a similar situation. Because we know how bad agony is or how good pleasure is, we are morally obliged to do the right thing, whatever that might be.

Criticism: nature thinks differently

It can be said that animals kill each other to feed themselves without any regard for the life or suffering of their preys, and we do not blame them.

Answer: animals are amoral; the objectives rules of morality exist nevertheless

Insofar as one animal does not have any capacity of reasoning about the consequences on the well-being of their preys, we cannot consider that animal a moral agent. At the moment, we can safely argue that only humans (and maybe some higher apes, but I am not so sure about that) comply with that definition.  An animal that kills its prey is not immoral because they have no freedom to act in a different way. Not even the most cruel behaviours in nature would qualify as immoral (see the spider wasp, e.g.) in the sense I am referring here.

However, even if nature were only composed of predators equipped with the most gruesome ways of killing their preys, the moral objective rules would still be there. Nobody would be there to understand them, let alone follow them, but they would exist nevertheless. The same can be said of arithmetic objective rules.

Criticism: who are we to impose our values

Related to the relativist criticism is the idea of our society not being entitled to impose our values on any other society.

Answer: not being entitled to impose certain values does not imply that every value is equally valid

This is a different discussion in which I am not entering here, but what is relevant is the following: even if society X is not entitled to impose values in society Y, it does not follow that the values of X and those of Y are equally valid or respectable.

Criticism: that is just an hypothesis

The scenario of the Worst Possible Misery for Everyone is just an hypothesis and we cannot know about absolute values only by discussing a hypothesis.

Answer: sound hypothesis with logically valid conclusions are useful and valid in the real world

The strength of justifying a system of beliefs via hypothesis is that any logically valid conclusions you draw from it, will apply in whatever scenario that fulfills the assumptions set up in the hypothesis. The scenario does not need to happen for the conclusions to be valid, it only needs to be conceivable.

Criticism: the totalitarian risk

This argument claims that believing in an absolute morality, which says that some actions or values are objectively better than others, will inevitably carry a risk that a society turns itself into a totalitarian regime aiming to implement those values that are deemed the best.

Answer: yes, there may be a risk, so what? facts are facts even if they entail risks

That some things in our world entail many risks does not change the truth of its facts.
Unlocking the power of nuclear energy was something very risky and yet nobody would doubt of its existence on grounds of its potentially dangerous consequences.

Funnily enough, by saying that there is a risk of leading to some sort of totalitarian regime, this critic already implies that the latter is already a bad outcome, or at least, worse than the non-totalitarian one. This strengthens the point of there being outcomes that are objectively better than others.

References

Image edited from this one in Pixabay

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