Can disagreements over value judgments be resolved through rational arguing? Several philosophical theories aimed to answer this question. About this issue, the main conflict is between the “Metaethical Moral Relativism (MMR)” and “Moral Objectivism” (“Moral”). MMR doesn’t believe that moral conflicts can’t be resolved, and at the same time, objectivism assumes that resolving such conflicts is very easy.
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But by looking at the world today, it can be found that moral conflicts can be resolved rationally but not all the time. The next argument is going to explain the basic concepts of each theory regarding the conflicts overvalues. The purpose of that is to show the weakness in each view. The premises in this argument are going to lead to the conclusion. The conclusion is that moral conflicts can indeed be resolved if the conflict parties are being rational when they defend their morals.
How Are Both Philosophical Theories Wrong about Their Views of Moral Conflicts?
The first theory that aims to solve the issue is the “MMR”. According to MMR, “the truth or falsity of moral judgments, or their justification, is not absolute or universal but is relative to the traditions, convictions, or practices of a group of persons” (“Moral”). MMR claims that conflicts over morals can’t be resolved even with rational arguing. But in some rare cases, the 2 parties of the conflict can have a common “moral framework”.
And even those common frameworks rarely exist. Also, MMR claims that the 2 parties need a third neutral party to be the judge between them (“Moral”). But in real life, this view doesn’t seem to be true. Disagreements can be resolved through rational argumentation even if the issues are very sensitive like religion. Thousands of people convert their religions every year. A person can convert from one religion to another even though both religions don’t have a moral framework in common (like Islam and Buddhism).
And sometimes, a non-religious person may decide to accept a religion (or vice versa), and that’s because someone used a rational argument to convince him to make that decision. Plus, a disagreement over religious values doesn’t always need a third party to be resolved. Reading a book about a certain religion can be enough cause for converting to it. This book may contain effective rational arguments. All of the previous premises lead to concluding that disagreements over value judgments can be resolved sometimes.
The second theory that aims to solve that issue is “Moral Objectivism”. In philosophy, objectivism is “one of several doctrines holding that all reality is objective and external to the mind and that knowledge is reliably based on observed objects and events” (“Objectivism”). According to objectivism, nearly all disagreements over judgment values can be resolved. Objectivism claims that all conflicts start when an arguer holds a value judgment that comes as a result of a “factual or logical mistake” (“Moral”).
The mistake comes as a result of the effect of personal aspects. Those aspects can include ideology or passion. Objectivism claims that if the mistaken party discovered his mistake and cleared his mind from any aspect that could affect his argument, the disagreement would be resolved (“Moral”). But there is some inconstancy in this theory. Objectivism says that disagreements can be resolved, but under the mentioned circumstances this will be rare to happen. First comment, finding which party is mistaken can be nearly impossible. For example, when the subject of the conflict between the 2 parties is about whether justice or mercy is better as a value.
For example, the subject of the conflict can be whether a criminal should be punished or should be helped. The second comment, it’s not easy to find someone who can admit that he is mistaken even if he is. In the third comment, it’s hard to find someone who can clear his mind from any aspect that can affect his argument, especially when the conflict is over a religious value. For example, even if the two parties tried to clear their minds, someone from a liberated culture will not agree on penalizing women for adultery but someone from a conservative culture will not agree on exempting them from the penalty. Thus, it is clear that disagreements over value judgments cannot be resolved easily as objectivism claims.
From this argument against MMR and moral objectivism, it can be concluded that disagreements over value judgments can be resolved through rational argumentation sometimes. It’s not very easy and it’s not very hard.
This argument showed 2 different theories about resolving moral disagreements. Metaethical Moral Relativism (MMR) claims that those disagreements can’t be resolved in most cases. But it also imagines very tough and rare conditions for resolving those disagreements. In real life, a lot of moral disagreements can be resolved, and sometimes one party can change its morals if the other party uses an effective rational argument.
Moral objectivism believes that moral disagreements can be resolved, but it imagines some rare circumstances for that. Also, objectivism is very optimistic about resolving moral disagreements. But it doesn’t put in mind that disagreements over issues like religion are very hard to resolve.
MMR is very pessimistic and objectivism is very optimistic. But the truth is a mix between the 2 theories. The conclusion is that sometimes disagreements over value judgments can indeed be resolved through rational argumentations.
Gowans, Chris. “Moral Relativism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2008. Stanford University. Web.
“Objectivism.” Answers. 2008. Web.