12. Are there objective truths about right and wrong?


In this chapter, we will talk about whether there are “objective” truths in ethics, and whether we are capable of finding them if they exist.


12.1 This is a short introductory section. We introduce the challenge of moral skepticism, and raise the question of whether there are objective truths to be found in ethics.

12.2 The term “objective” is ambiguous, and can cause confusion. In this section, we explain what we mean by “objective”.

12.3 We consider the divine command theory. To put it roughly, divine command theorists believe that moral laws are created by God.

12.4 We consider some versions of moral relativism.

12.5 We consider subjectivism – roughly speaking, this is the view that what’s right and wrong varies from person to person. We also consider expressivism – roughly, this is the view that moral claims are expressions of personal feeling.

12.6 We consider the qualified attitude theory – in effect, this is a sophisticated variant of subjectivism.

12.7 We wrap up the discussion.