Critical Thinking Lecture: Value Judgments



hello and welcome to the third section of our course the section on inductive arguments we will start with moral arguments now I want to give you an overview of our class in order to situate this section of our our class within the whole and then I want to give you an introduction to morality by talking about value judgments all right here's an overview of our class the structure our class is as follows one introduction to reasoning to propositional logic three induction with moral arguments and analogical arguments as the focus and then four informal fallacies so in the introductory introduction to reasoning we learned about statements and arguments and how to distinguish them from other uses of language and we learned the difference between deductive and inductive arguments and the various properties for each such as validity soundness strength and cogent see in our section on propositional logic we talked about we learned a method for proving whether a given deductive argument is valid or invalid that was the truth table method now we'll go into some depth on inductive arguments and we'll start with moral arguments okay here's an outline of our section on moral arguments we'll talk about value judgments moral theories the naturalistic fallacy the structure of moral arguments and analogies and moral arguments first let's talk about value judgments the focus of this lecture okay there's a difference between a factual claim and a value judgment a factual claim is non-evaluative it doesn't carry any value with it it doesn't carry any sort of claim about the importance or significance of the of the claim so penguins are birds water is h2o these are non evaluative there's no there's no implication of value in the claim that penguins are birds or water is h2o it's just it's a matter of fact a statement of fact then you have value judgments this is a claim that a particular human action or object has some degree of importance worth or desirability it could be something as simple as ice cream tastes great or something as serious as it's morally wrong to kill innocent people for fun now the claim that ice cream tastes great is a sort of subjective claim about about you what value you place on ice cream or at least the taste of ice cream you like it hey buddy you're not making any sort of claim about what other people might value now it's a good question regarding the second one whether this is purely a subjective statement it's morally wrong to kill innocent people for fun or whether it's a claim about what's right or wrong for any human being in all of history in claiming that you know value judgments are distinct from factual judgments I'm not necessarily saying that value judgments are not factual it's a matter of fact that ice cream tastes great it's a I would say if I hope you would say it's a matter of fact that it's morally wrong to kill innocent people for fun when we say it's a matter of fact that ice cream tastes great we at the very least we mean say that it's coming from david at the very least we mean ice cream tastes great for david okay there are different types of value judgments their personal tastes or personal tastes or value judgments of personal taste for value these statements assert one's personal tastes or values so i like ice cream running is important to me you're saying something about what you value about what your personal tastes are you're not thinking you sort of claim about other people I might like running but I'm not claiming you have to like running I might like ice cream but I'm not claiming that you have to like ice cream so their value judgments that are based purely on personal taste or value and there are moral judgments these are assert that human actions are good bad right or wrong for example killing for fun is morally wrong truth-telling is good now it's a an interesting question to ask whether all moral judgments boil down to judgments of personal tastes or preference or value so do moral judgments boil down to judgments of personal taste or value well to say that moral judgments just boil down to personal taste is to say that something like killing for fun is morally wrong it's just a matter of your personal taste I I hope that it's not simply a matter of your personal taste that killing for fun is morally wrong so that if Jack finds it distasteful to kill for fun and and John finds it tasteful artistic maybe to kill for fun well I can hope that we would say one is just seriously wrong in claiming that is seriously misguided and thinking that killing for fun is is tasteful so I'm not here to settle the debate just to raise the issues but there is a difference between issues of personal taste or value and moral judgments okay there's a distinction as well between subjective statements and objective statements for a subjective statement the truth of these statements depends solely on a person's subjective state feelings or preferences beliefs the example we've been using is this one ice cream is the best so the truth of that is if Mary claims that ice cream is the best the truth of that depends solely on how she feels about ice cream how ice cream tastes to her her beliefs about ice cream and it's not really some you know some feature out there in the world in fact about ice cream that it's the best now it could be that ice cream really is the best but that would be something I think that would be something like everyone agrees that ice cream is the best although there also could be you know sort of objective features about ice cream and the way that they impact you know the human taste bud and then the way the brain fires up such that you know like the the properties of ice cream have this particular impact on human being so you know there might be something objective about it after all but you know ice cream is the best is typically given as a prime example of sort of a subjective truth the truth that depends solely on a person's subjective state now an objective truth does not depend on any one's beliefs preferences desires etc but on the nature of mind independent reality so ice cream typically has sugar now if Susan thinks that ice cream has no sugar she's just wrong his Susan claims that ice cream is not the best and Jack claims that ice cream is the best they can both be right about it because Susan's claiming ice cream is not the best for her Jack is claiming claiming ice cream is the best for him there's no sort of contradiction there no genuine disagreement but when it comes to ice-cream typically has sugar if Susan says you know for me ice cream does not have sugar that's my truth or something like that well she's just wrong the truth of the matter depends on something that's out there in the world depends on the nature of mind independent reality rather than on I don't know the name of the person Susan Susan subjective states even if she believes that ice cream does not have sugar that doesn't show that ice cream does not have sugar it just means that her belief is false so what do you think of course we can't have an you know a discussion here I just want to raise the question moral claims like telling truth telling is good are just expressions of personal taste much like the claim vanilla ice cream is the best there is nothing objectively right or wrong about these claims the preceding claim is what would you say true or false let me give it a little more explanation so in saying that a moral claim like truth-telling is good it's just an expression of personal taste much like vanilla ice cream is the best is an expression of personal taste you're saying that there's nothing really more to morality than sort of reporting our personal tastes or when I make a claim that truth-telling is good I'm just giving my personal tastes but I'm not saying this is true for everyone I'm just saying like vanilla ice cream is the best diet doesn't mean that you can't like chocolate that you can't think chocolate is the best so it's like truth-telling is good well that's my personal tastes doesn't mean that you can't think lying is good in the same circumstances in which I think truth-telling is good so what do you think you know our moral claims more like personal tastes or are they more like objective claims about the nature of reality something to think about okay now one final distinction moral value judgments often employ two types of state prescriptive statements and normative statements so a prescriptive statement offers advice so an example is you shouldn't do that right like if my child wants to run across the street and I say hey you shouldn't do that well first of all maybe I should command her don't do that but if I'm just saying you shouldn't do that I'm sort of giving advice right or maybe a better example would be like you're your brother-in-law wants to invest in a particular stock and you you're an expert on investments and you say you know you shouldn't invest in that stock what you're doing is you're offering advice on what he should or shouldn't do it's not there it's not a moral sort of claim it's more like I'm a practical claim or pragmatic claim well if you do that it's going to have negative a negative impact on your finances a normative claim establishes standards for correct moral behavior a normative claim of establishes standards for correct moral behavior example would be killing is always wrong now prescriptive claims can be moral claims so you might say for a prescriptive prescriptive claim well you you know you I don't think you should steal I don't think you should steal from that store and you mean that if you what you mean is that if you steal you you'll have done something morally wrong so prescriptive claim offers advice a normative claim establishes standards for correct moral behavior so that's it just try to get trying to get some distinctions on the table when it comes to you know moral arguments

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