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Objectivity and moral judgements

Boyne, Christopher William (1983) Objectivity and moral judgements. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94228) (KAR id:94228)


The assumption that moral judgements could never be objective stems from a series of misunderstandings about objectivity itself. Objectivity is misleadingly identified with true judgements, or with judgements about material objects, and seen as exclusive to empirical judgements. But what makes an empirical judgement objective is itself hardly better understood. In particular, the legacy of empiricism, the belief that the justification for the objectivity of empirical judgements must lie within individual experience, is inadequate. And the account which must replace it is one that makes our normal agreement about the conclusions of our fundamental judgements a precondition of their intelligibility. This account is applicable not only to the field of empirical judgements, but to any area of judgement where questions of justification can arise. The assumption that justification can only be found in factual, never in evaluative, judgements is challenged, and I argue that our ability to give reasons for moral judgements presupposes that we normally agree in the basic judgements we make about what has moral value. The belief that moral judgements could be made from outside the standpoint created by this normal agreement is false; such judgements would be unintelligible. Thus morality necessarily involves the existence of a framework of fundamental value-judgements which are objective, though these judgements have only a limited capacity to determine how we ought to behave.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Radford, Colin
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94228
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Uncontrolled keywords: philosophy, moral judgement, morality, objectivity
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > Department of Philosophy
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2023 14:18 UTC
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2023 14:18 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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