Peter Jones writes:

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Peter Jones writes:
> > It is indisputable that morality varies in practice across communities.
> > But the contention of ethical objectivism is not that everyone actually
> > does hold to a single objective system of ethics; it is only that
> > ethical questions can be resolved objectively in principle. The
> > existence of an objective solution to any kind of problem is always
> > compatible with the existence of people who, for whatever reason, do
> > not subscribe. The roundness of the Earth is no less an objective fact
> > for the existence of believers in the Flat Earth theory.(It is odd that
> > the single most popular argument for ethical subjectivism has so little
> > logical force).
> The Flat Earther is *wrong*. He claims that if you sail in a straight line you
> will eventually fall off the edge. But if you do sail in a straight line, you 
> don't fall off the edge; lots of people have done it. The psychopath, on the
> other hand, merely claims that if he kills someone, he does not think it is a 
> thing.

That is no problem for objective ethics. The fact that someone "thinks"
not-X is always comaptible with the objective truth of X.

Not when the "objective truth" is in fact what one thinks.
>  And indeed, he kills someone, and he does not think it is a bad thing. He
> is *not* wrong; there is no way you could even claim he is wrong,

He is not wrong about what he thinks. He is wrong about what
is true,. ethically.

So you say, but ethics ultimately involves values, and you can't say that values are irrational or inconsistent with reality. Values are an irreducible aspect of being a conscious agent, much like the feeling of what it is like to be conscious is itself something not reducible to physiological facts underpinning it.

>  like the Flat
> Earther claiming that sailors have lied about circumnavigating the globe. You
> could argue that if everyone were a psychopath we would all be dead, and he
> might even agree with you that that would be the case, but then turn around
> and say, "So what? Better dead than cissies!" As Jamie Rose said, there were
> societies such as the Shakers who didn't mind if they died out and in fact did
> die out, and they are not usually considered immoral.

That's not the issue. It's not negotiable whether ethics is supposed
to lead to death and misery rather than life and happiness, any more
than there is a valid form of economics which is designed to achieve
abject poverty and societal breakdown in the shortest possible time.

Of course there is a valid form of economics designed to achieve abject poverty: take all your assets and burn them in a big fire. There is also a valid form of engineering designed to make cars go very slowly: make the wheels square. However, there is no valid form of geology which makes the Earth flat, because the Earth is not flat. The first two involve values: we don't want to make everyone poor and we don't want cars that don't go. The geology example involves no values: whether or not we want the Earth to be flat, it isn't flat. The economics and engineering examples involve something irreducibly subjective, and *given* this, we can discuss them objectively. The geology example in no way depends on anyone's feelings, and is thus purely objective.
Stathis Papaioannou
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