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Richard4 comments on Inseparably Right; or, Joy in the Merely Good - Less Wrong

22 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 09 August 2008 01:00AM

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Comment author: Richard4 10 August 2008 12:57:24AM 0 points [-]

"My notion of goodness may be slightly different to yours - how can we have a sensible conversation where you insist on using the word "morality" to refer to morality_Eliezer2008?"

This is an important objection, which I think establishes the inadequacy of Eliezer's analysis. It's a datum (which any adequate metaethical theory must account for) that there can be substantive moral disagreement. When Bob says "Abortion is wrong", and Sally says, "No it isn't", they are disagreeing with each other.

I don't see how Eliezer can accommodate this. On his account, what Bob asserted is true iff abortion is prohibited by the morality_Bob norms. How can Sally disagree? There's no disputing (we may suppose) that abortion is indeed prohibited by morality_Bob. On the other hand, it would be changing the subject for Sally to say "Abortion is right" in her own vernacular, where this merely means that abortion is permitted by the morality_Sally norms. (Bob wasn't talking about morality_Sally, so their two claims are - on Eliezer's account - quite compatible.)

Since there is moral disagreement, whatever Eliezer purports to be analysing here, it is not morality.

[For more detail, see 'Is Normativity Just Semantics?]