Essay about Evaluate the Claim That “Moral Values Cannot Be Derived from Facts”

Words: 1008
Pages: 5

Evaluate the claim that “moral values cannot be derived from facts”

The claim that moral values cannot be derived from facts concerns the distinction between facts and values and the difference between what is and what ought to be.

There are those who argue that the claim is false, such as naturalists, who argue that there are indeed natural facts thus suggesting that moral values can be indentified as possessing empirical properties. Naturalists suggest that moral truths can be derived from facts about human behaviour for example, “it is a fact that suffering evokes human sympathy” thus making it a form of moral realism which states that there exists an ethical reality and just as there is an atomic structure to the world, there is
…show more content…
Foot proposes a solution which bridges the fact-value gap which argues that moral reasoning is constrained by moral facts or a moral reality external to humankind therefore; through facts about human welfare and flourishing we can reach moral conclusions. Foot does not deny that “good” has a recommending function, she argues that it is definitively tied to certain objects, since there is a limit to the objects that can meaningfully be called good. For example, collecting buckets of water from the sea could not be deemed morally good unless one constructs a specific moral framework to explain its benefits. This could even be presented in the form of a social convention.

This response that there is an inevitable link between human welfare and virtuous behaviour is not convincing to everyone. The link is contingent and dependent on circumstances, rather than a necessary link. For example certain dictators such as Chairman Mao in China behaved abominably and hypocritically as he indulged in many pleasures that he denied the people of China, yet he died apparently revered and peacefully. This suggests Foot is incorrect in suggesting moral wellbeing is linked to facts about human society and welfare. Her argument is not entirely effective and at worst reduced morality to expediency. Pinchin argues that Foot will