YPHI0002 - Culture, Value and the Meaning of Life
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Lecture #2 Joe Lau Sept 2005 PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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YPHI0002 - Culture, Value and the Meaning of Life Course web site: http://philosophy.hku.hk/courses/200506/yphi0002. Lecture #2 Joe Lau Sept 2005. Two questions. What is the purpose of life? Is there a creator? How to live a valuable life? Where do values come from?

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Lecture #2 Joe Lau Sept 2005

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Lecture 2 joe lau sept 2005

YPHI0002 - Culture, Value and the Meaning of LifeCourse web site: http://philosophy.hku.hk/courses/200506/yphi0002

Lecture #2

Joe Lau Sept 2005

Two questions

Two questions

  • What is the purpose of life?

    • Is there a creator?

  • How to live a valuable life?

    • Where do values come from?

    • Which values should we accept?

Lecture 2 joe lau sept 2005

Some remarks about values

Facts vs values

Facts vs. values

  • Judgment of Fact

    • A hit B.

  • Judgment of Value

    • It is wrong / right for A to hit B.

    • It is a good / bad thing that A hit B.

    • A should / should not hit B.

  • Quiz

    • “Many people think that abortion is wrong.”

The fact value gap

The fact-value gap

  • Facts by themselves are not sufficient to entail claims about values.

  • “Homosexuality / cloning is unnatural.”“Homosexuality / cloning is wrong.”

  • “Many people don’t like X.”“X is morally wrong.”

  • “There is no morality because everybody is selfish.”

Do values depend on god

Do values depend on God?

  • “If God does not exist, then there are no standards for right and wrong. Different people would have different opinions about morality and there is no way to decide who is correct.”

The divine command theory

The divine command theory

  • Values are given by God’s commands.

  • What makes our lives valuable is that we live according to the commands of God.

Doing x is good two exclusive and exhaustive positions

Doing X is good because God commands us to do X.

So whatever God commands is good.

God commands us to do X because X is good.

So X is good for an independent reason.

“Doing X is good.”Two exclusive and exhaustive positions

The practical question

The practical question

  • Whether or not values come from God, we need to decide who the real God is.

  • We need to make use of our value system to determine whether a purported God is morally perfect.

Moral relativism

Moral relativism

  • Nothing is objectively right or wrong, good or bad.

  • Right or wrong is relative to X.

    • Perspectives

    • Societies, traditions, cultures

    • Individuals

Bad argument for relativism

Bad argument for relativism

  • There is widespread disagreement about morality.

  • Every action is good in some way and bad in some other ways.

Are you a moral relativist

Are you a moral relativist?

  • Try this test.

    • http://philosophy.hku.hk/think/value/rel-quiz.php

Relativism and contextualism

Relativism and contextualism

  • Moral relativism

    • “Right or wrong is a relative matter”.

  • Moral contextualism

    • “Right or wrong depends on the situation.”

    • So it is possible that some moral questions do not have correct answers.



  • Three kinds of objectivity.

  • About facts

    • There are more women than men here.

  • About morality

    • It is wrong to torture innocent babies just for fun.

  • About art

    • Mozart’s music is better than Britney Spear’s.

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