David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
In Pigden (ed.), Hume on Is and Ought. Palgrave Macmillan (2010)
Frank Snare had a puzzle. Noncognitivism implies No-Ought-From-Is but No- Ought-From-Is does not imply non-cognitivism. How then can we derive non-cognitivism from No-Ought-From-Is? Via an abductive argument. If we combine non-cognitivism with the conservativeness of logic (the idea that in a valid argument the conclusion is contained in the premises), this implies No-Ought-From-Is. Hence if No-Ought-From-Is is true, we can arrive at non-cognitivism via an inference to the best explanation. With prescriptivism we can make this argument more precise. I develop an account of imperative consequence that underwrites Hare’s principle that you cannot derive imperatives from indicatives. Thus if moral judgments contain an imperative component, it will be impossible to derive moral conclusions from indicative or non-moral premises. Given this account of imperative consequence, we can explain No-Ought-From-Is without appealing to anything as nebulous as the conservativeness of logic. Hence if No-Ought-From-Is is true, we have an inference to the best explanation for prescriptivism. Both lines of argument face problems from Prior. Given Prior’s counterexamples, No-Ought-From-Is as originally conceived is false. The version that survives is No-Non-Vacuous-Ought-From-Is. But the best explanation of this does not include non-cognitivism. With prescriptivism it is worse. For the version of No-Ought-From-Is that prescriptivism ‘explains’ – that is, the version of No-Ought-From-Is that prescriptivism implies – would exclude Prior’s counter-examples to Autonomy as invalid. But they are not invalid. Thus Prior’s counter-examples to No-Ought-From- Is refute prescriptivism. Thus from 1960 onwards R. M.Hare was a dead philosopher walking. But if non-cognitivism cannot be derived from No-Ought-From-Is, this suggests that it is not what Hume was trying to prove. I argue that what Hume was trying to prove is that moral truths are not demonstrable. To be demonstrable, a proposition must be either self-evident or logically derivable from self-evident propositions. By Treatise 188.8.131.52, Hume had proved to his own satisfaction that no moral propositions are self-evident. That leaves open the possibility that they are logically derivable from self-evident but NON-moral propositions. The point of No-Ought-From-Is was to exclude this possibility. If you cannot logically derive moral conclusions from non-moral premises, you cannot demonstrate the truths of morality by deriving them from self-evident but NON-moral truths. I also discuss why Hume abandoned No-Ought-From-Is in the EPM. He had no need of it since he thought he had a proof that (with some exceptions) no nontrivial truths are demonstrable. Hence no non-trivial MORAL truths are demonstrable. No-Ought-From-Is drops out as unnecessary.
|Keywords||David Hume Is/Ought Non-cognitivism Prescriptivism Arthur Prior R M Hare|
|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
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Rico Vitz (2002). Hume and the Limits of Benevolence. Hume Studies 28 (2):271-296.
Scott Black (2011). Thinking in Time in Hume's Essays. Hume Studies 36 (1):3-23.
Mark Collier (2008). Two Puzzles in Hume's Epistemology. History of Philosophy Quarterly 25 (4):301 - 314.
Henry R. West (1992). Book Review:Morals, Motivation and Convention: Hume's Influential Doctrines. Francis Snare. [REVIEW] Ethics 103 (1):166-.
Charles R. Pigden (2009). If Not Non-Cognitivism, Then What? In , Hume on Motivation and Virtue. Palgrave Macmillan.
Elizabeth S. Radcliffe (2006). Moral Internalism and Moral Cognitivism in Hume's Metaethics. Synthese 152 (3):353 - 370.
Charles R. Pigden (ed.) (2009). Hume on Motivation and Virtue: New Essays. Palgrave Macmillan.
Richard Joyce (2010). Expressivism, Motivation Internalism, and Hume. In Charles R. Pigden (ed.), Hume on Motivation and Virtue. Palgrave Macmillan.
Francis Snare (1991). Morals, Motivation, and Convention: Hume's Influential Doctrines. Cambridge University Press.
Jeffrey Ketland (2002). Hume = Small Hume. Analysis 62 (1):92–93.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads74 ( #22,348 of 1,413,336 )
Recent downloads (6 months)7 ( #30,081 of 1,413,336 )
How can I increase my downloads?