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Internalist Argument Analysis

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When considering the metaethical status of moral claims, ethical objectivism and moral skepticism dominate the two sides of the debate. The ethical objectivist claims that moral features are an objective part of reality existing independently of humans, or human attitudes. In opposition, moral skeptics deny the overall objectivist claim, explaining morality through several different theories such as nihilism, relativism, and expressivism. A controversial feature of moral judgments is that they may be inherently motivational, and guide the actions of those who hold the moral judgment. Although controversial, the premise has been influential in guiding metaethical discussions. I will argue that this “internalist” premise establishes a compelling…show more content…
Dreier, in his article “Moral Relativism and Moral Nihilism,” examines a similar argument to the one provided by Shafer-Landau, and additionally rests on the internalist premise. Shafer-Landau’s objection to this premise utilizes the amoralist, an individual who makes sincere moral judgments, but is unmoved by them (336-337). He admits that the amoralist is an unusual individual, but still plausible. Dreier is able to evade this counter argument altogether through subscribing to a weaker form of internalism. He proposes the example of an isolated culture of English-speaking individuals with an entirely different vocabulary of moral language (257). In attempting to examine their culture, linguistic anthropologists determine they have two classes of “extra lexical items:” one class uses terms such as “gog” and “bab,” while the other class uses the terms “noog” and “nad” (257). The culture rarely uses the first class of terms, but their general understanding of them is equivalent to our understanding of good and bad. On the other hand, the second class of terms matches in extension “the utilitarian notions of good and bad,” and the people use the terms extensively in everyday discussion (257-258). Furthermore, they are motivated “in a dutiful, serious way” to act in accordance with things they acknowledge as “noog” and vice versa with what they acknowledge as “nad” (258). Dreier concludes that we would generally decide that the culture’s moral language is the second class of terms, and this conclusion demonstrates the conceptual ties of function with moral language (258). He accepts that we may decide the culture is wrong about their use of terms, but it is difficult to deny the importance of “extension of our moral judgments” (258). I find that this plausible example limits the damage an amoralist counterargument could cause because it makes
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