David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Australasian Journal of Philosophy 67 (2):127 – 151 (1989)
My first paper on the Is/Ought issue. The young Arthur Prior endorsed the Autonomy of Ethics, in the form of Hume’s No-Ought-From-Is (NOFI) but the later Prior developed a seemingly devastating counter-argument. I defend Prior's earlier logical thesis (albeit in a modified form) against his later self. However it is important to distinguish between three versions of the Autonomy of Ethics: Ontological, Semantic and Ontological. Ontological Autonomy is the thesis that moral judgments, to be true, must answer to a realm of sui generis non-natural PROPERTIES. Semantic autonomy insists on a realm of sui generis non-natural PREDICATES which do not mean the same as any natural counterparts. Logical Autonomy maintains that moral conclusions cannot be derived from non-moral premises.-moral premises with the aid of logic alone. Logical Autonomy does not entail Semantic Autonomy and Semantic Autonomy does not entail Ontological Autonomy. But, given some plausible assumptions Ontological Autonomy entails Semantic Autonomy and given the conservativeness of logic – the idea that in a valid argument you don’t get out what you haven’t put in – Semantic Autonomy entails Logical Autonomy. So if Logical Autonomy is false – as Prior appears to prove – then Semantic and Ontological Autonomy would appear to be false too! I develop a version of Logical Autonomy (or NOFI) and vindicate it against Prior’s counterexamples, which are also counterexamples to the conservativeness of logic as traditionally conceived. The key concept here is an idea derived in part from Quine - that of INFERENCE-RELATIVE VACUITY. I prove that you cannot derive conclusions in which the moral terms appear non-vacuously from premises from which they are absent. But this is because you cannot derive conclusions in which ANY (non-logical) terms appear non-vacuously from premises from which they are absent Thus NOFI or Logical Autonomy comes out as an instance of the conservativeness of logic. This means that the reverse entailment that I have suggested turns out to be a mistake. The falsehood of Logical Autonomy would not entail either the falsehood Semantic Autonomy or the falsehood of Ontological Autonomy, since Semantic Autonomy only entails Logical Autonomy with the aid of the conservativeness of logic of which Logical Autonomy is simply an instance. Thus NOFI or Logical Autonomy is vindicated, but it turns out to be a less world-shattering thesis than some have supposed. It provides no support for either non-cognitivism or non-naturalism.
|Keywords||Is/Ought The conservativeness of logic Meta-Ethics Non-Cogntivism Operator Logic Deontic Logic Arthur Prior David Hume|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Hilary Putnam (1981). Reason, Truth, and History. Cambridge University Press.
David Hume (1739/2000). A Treatise of Human Nature. Oxford University Press.
R. M. Hare (1981). Moral Thinking: Its Levels, Method, and Point. Oxford University Press.
Brian F. Chellas (1980). Modal Logic: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press.
R. M. Hare (1952). The Language of Morals. Oxford Clarendon Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Campbell Brown (2014). Minding the Is-Ought Gap. Journal of Philosophical Logic 43 (1):53-69.
Scott Hill (2008). 'Is'–'Ought' Derivations and Ethical Taxonomies. Philosophia 36 (4):545-566.
Aaron Wolf (2014). Giving Up Hume's Guillotine. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (1):109-125.
Josh Parsons (2013). Command and Consequence. Philosophical Studies 164 (1):61-92.
Mark T. Nelson (1995). Is It Always Fallacious to Derive Values From Facts? Argumentation 9 (4):553-562.
Similar books and articles
John Philip Christman & Joel Anderson (eds.) (2005). Autonomy and the Challenges of Liberalism: New Essays. Cambridge University Press.
Eric L. Krakauer (1998). Prescriptions: Autonomy, Humanism and the Purpose of Health Technology. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 19 (6):525-545.
Jean Keller (1997). Autonomy, Relationality, and Feminist Ethics. Hypatia 12 (2):152-164.
Manne Sjöstrand, Gert Helgesson, Stefan Eriksson & Niklas Juth (2013). Autonomy-Based Arguments Against Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: A Critique. [REVIEW] Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 16 (2):225-230.
Jukka Varelius (2008). Ethics Consultation and Autonomy. Science and Engineering Ethics 14 (1):65-76.
Charles E. Larmore (2008). The Autonomy of Morality. Cambridge University Press.
Sheila McLean (2010). Autonomy, Consent and the Law. Routledge-Cavendish.
Paloma Pérez-Ilzarbe (2000). Time and Propositions in Jerónimo Pardo. In I. Angelelli & P. Pérez-Ilzarbe (eds.), Medieval and Renaissance Logic in Spain. Olms 54--251.
Athanassios Tzouvaras (1996). Aspects of Analytic Deduction. Journal of Philosophical Logic 25 (6):581 - 596.
Yannis Delmas-Rigoutsos (1997). A Double Deduction System for Quantum Logic Based on Natural Deduction. Journal of Philosophical Logic 26 (1):57-67.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads125 ( #17,467 of 1,725,806 )
Recent downloads (6 months)32 ( #33,133 of 1,725,806 )
How can I increase my downloads?