The question is not whether morality (or anything else) is "something real", but whether or not moral claims are actually true or false.

That (whether moral claims are actually true or false) is exactly how I distinguish moral realism from moral nonrealism, and I think this is a standard way to understand the terms.

But any nonrealist theory can be made into one in which moral claims have truth values by redefining the key words; my suggestion is that Eliezer's theory is of this kind, that it is nearer to a straightforwardly nonrealist theory, which it becomes if e.g. you replace his use of terms like "good" with terms that are explicit about what value system the reference ("good according to human values") than to typical more ambitious realist theories that claim that moral judgements are true or false according to some sort of moral authority that goes beyond any particular person's or group's or system's values.

I agree that the typical realist theory implies more objectivity than is present in Eliezer's theory. But in the same way, the typical non-realist theory implies less objectivity than is present there. E.g. someone who says that "this action is good" just means "I want to do this action" has less objectivity, because it will vary from person to person, which is not the case in Eliezer's theory.

Open thread, Jul. 25 - Jul. 31, 2016

by MrMind 1 min read25th Jul 2016133 comments


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