Prof. dr hab. Wojciech Załuski
Jagiellonian University in Kraków
Abstract: The paper aims at formulating a certain trilemma that applies to justifying moral norms. The trilemma can be succinctly stated as follows: any attempt to derive a “moral-ought-statement” from an “is-statement” with a justificatory goal (i.e. to justify the “moral-ought-statement”), even if it were successful in its “derivation” part (i.e. logically correct), would be unsuccessful in its “justificatory” part for one of the following three reasons: (1) it would consider each human action of which a factual statement can be made as morally obligatory, thus “justifying” a large number of implausible moral norms; or (2) it would presuppose a moral norm not derivable from facts; or (3) it would not explain why the distinction – made based on extra-moral criteria – between those factual statements about human actions from which moral norms can be derived and those from which they cannot be derived should count as morally relevant. The trilemma is illustrated in the paper by an analysis of Searle’s well-known attempt at deriving “ought” from “is”. Some further implications of the trilemma regarding the proper way of justifying moral norms are also examined.
Keywords: ought-statements, is-statements, logical derivation, ethical justification, Searle, Anscombe, naturalistic ethics, divine ethics
Published: Number 2(20)/2019, pp. 63-74.
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