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Moral Relativism and Moral Objectivity 1st Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0631192114
ISBN-10: 0631192115
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From the Back Cover

Do moral questions have objective answers? In this great debate, Gilbert Harman explains and argues for relativism, emotivism, and moral scepticism. In his view, moral disagreements are like disagreements about what to pay for a house; there are no correct answers ahead of time, except in relation to one or another moral framework.

Independently, Judith Jarvis Thomson examines what she takes to be the case against moral objectivity, and rejects it; she argues that it is possible to find out the correct answers to some moral questions. In her view, some moral disagreements are like disagreements about whether the house has a ghost.

Harman and Thomson then reply to each other. This important, lively accessible exchange will be invaluable to all students of moral theory and meta-ethics.

About the Author

Gilbert Harman is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Princeton. His publications include Thought (1973), The Nature of Morality (1977), and Change in View (1986).

Judith Jarvis Thomson is Professor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her publications include The Realm of Rights (1990), and Rights, Restitution and Risk (1986).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (January 9, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631192115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631192114
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #544,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Moral Relativism and Moral Objectivity is both thought provoking and profound. The authors of the book present their ideas in tremendous depth, yet the language is very accessible. Harman writes with incredible intuitive appeal, and Thomson writes with rigorous and astounding clarity. The book is absolutely captivating. The authors cover everything from philosophy of language to epistemology. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, it is difficult to decide who 'the winner' is. While this might be regrettable, one shouldn't always expect to `find the answers' when reading philosophy. Rather, one should feel like one has gained simply by deepening one's own thoughtful reflections.
Part of the reason that it is difficult, with this book, to decide who the winner of the debate is, has to do with the structure of the debate itself. The authors wrote their essays independently of each other; they framed the issues quite differently from each other, and when responding to each other, they reframed their opponent's position to meet their own frameworks. For example, Harman claims that moral statements are only true or false in relation to various moral frameworks. Moral Relativism is the position that there are many moral frameworks, none of which is more privileged than any other. Moral Objectivity, as Harman maintains, is the claim that there is only one moral framework. However, Thomson believes that "moral assessment is pointless unless it can be found out about some moral sentences that they are true", this she takes to be what is at the heart of Moral Objectivity. Moral Skepticism she defines as the claim that "it is not possible to find out about any moral sentence that it is true.
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Comment 13 of 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on November 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
Harman is unclear. Thomson, in her half of the book, writes that she cannot understand him. As best I can tell, he's saying that moral debate is just a power struggle. That's what he's got to say in order to uphold his view that moral judgments are just emotings devoid of truth value. Of course, if you believe something false, you'll probably have to strain to accept other false things, too, but if you write unclearly enough, so that even your coauthor admittedly cannot understand you, perhaps you can hide your false beliefs from view. For her part Thomson says that after the book was commissioned, she realized that what she was going to write was false, but, since it was too late by then, she'd tell it to us anyway. The whole thing is unconscienable. There are so many bad philosophers around that, if the good ones go bad, we'll be in deep trouble.
Comment 17 of 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By Elaine on December 28, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great. :)
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