'Is'–'ought' derivations and ethical taxonomies

Philosophia 36 (4):545-566 (2008)
Hume seems to claim that there does not exist a valid argument that has all non-ethical sentences as premises and an ethical sentence as its conclusion. Starting with Prior, a number of counterexamples to this claim have been proposed. Unfortunately, all of these proposals are controversial. Even the most plausible have a premise that seems like it might be an ethical sentence or a conclusion that seems like it might be non-ethical. Since it is difficult to tell whether any of these counterexamples are genuine, we need a taxonomy that sorts out ethical sentences from non-ethical ones. We need to know the difference between an ‘Is’ and an ‘Ought’. In the first part of the paper, I establish the need for a taxonomy. I consider some of the most influential ‘Is’–‘Ought’ derivations. These include proposals by Prior and Searle. I argue that each proposal has a premise whose status as ethical or non-ethical is difficult to determine. In the second part of the paper, I consider taxonomies proposed by Karmo and Maitzen. I argue against both taxonomies. I end with the claim that we need a taxonomy of ethical sentences and that none of the current proposals are adequate.
Keywords ‘Is’–‘ought’ derivation  Taxonomy of ethical sentences  Ethical nihilism  Possible world  Ethical standard
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-008-9131-y
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References found in this work BETA
Ethical Intuitionism.Michael Huemer - 2005 - Palgrave Macmillan.
Nihilism, Nietzsche and the Doppelganger Problem.Charles R. Pigden - 2007 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (5):441-456.
How to Derive "Ought" From "Is".John R. Searle - 1964 - Philosophical Review 73 (1):43-58.
Logic and the Autonomy of Ethics.Charles R. Pigden - 1989 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 67 (2):127 – 151.

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Good News for the Logical Autonomy of Ethics.Scott Hill - 2009 - Argumentation 23 (2):277-283.

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