In Defense of Individual Subjectivism (Essay Sample)
It is to defense individual subjectivism.source..
In Defense of Individual Subjectivism
We are living in a complex world where coming up with a moral stance that can help us examine the process of moral deliberation and decision making is becoming a difficult task. In an age where there is moral diversity and the existence of different forms of life, it is difficult to decide what the foundation of the moral dimension of human existence consists of. In such a context, metaethical discussions help us to probe the source and meaning of moral positions. Among the various positions that are developed under metaethics, in this paper it will be argued that it is the position of individual subjectivism that has the power of developing a proper account of moral conduct by making sense of moral disagreements and also giving a realistic picture of the context in which our moral stance happens to be situated in. The paper argues that individual subjectivism when compared to other positions like naturalism and divine command theory is the one view that manages to properly explain what it is that compels individuals to act in a particular manner in the first place.
Explaining the nature of our moral positions and statements happens to be a difficult task that requires complex deliberation. Among the different positions that have been propounded so far the position of collective subjectivism appeals to collective forms of identity to explain the nature of our moral positions. This view is still limited as it tries to subsume the will and autonomy of the individual to collective forms of identities. It is not able to offer an explanation that shows why individuals would willingly abandon their egoistic drive in the first place. Another inadequate position is the divine command theory. It makes recourse to the existence of a higher being as a way of accounting for what is morally right and wrong. This view errs in making the field of morality an arbitrary process that does not exhibit an element of rationality. In this context, it does not show us how communication among individuals is possible if all moral categories owe their existence to the presence of God. Richard Swinburne shows us that a particular thing “is good or bad because it has certain other non-moral properties” (Swinburne, 2008, p. 9). Hand in hand with this, the positions of naturalism and non-naturalism cannot provide adequate responses as well as they are trapped under a scientific debate regarding the existence of certain objects in the world that we are living in, and because of this, they fail to account for the relative and contextual aspects of human experience that play a huge role in the world of morality.
Individual subjectivism shows us that moral philosophy as a discipline has been preoccupied with concerns that are abstract and remote. The subject matter has been dealing with questions like human nature and the nature of moral agency that are not adequately grounded on the nature of day-to-day moral conflicts and the connections that are found among individuals. Being interested in the discovery of an essence that can be used to guide the moral positions of individuals, there is a predominantly universal orientation in moral philosophy that negates the role of the individual in the process of moral decision-making. In the name of discovering a moral truth, the motivations and aspirations of individuals are neglected within the history of moral philosophy. Particularly the position of divinely inspired morality negates the real motivations of individuals. Swinburne argues, “neither parents nor God have the right to command someone to do what is wrong” (2008, p. 12). Against such a background, the proponents of individual subjectivism show that moral statements and positions do not simply emerge in a vacuum and that their proper place is the preference of the individual. These preferences are not to be simply equated with a celebration of emotivism and the idea that moral views are the reflections of the emotions of the individual. There is an implicit form of reasoning that is expressed in the position of individual subjectivism. It is just that those positions are expressed at the individual level and are not developed in the form of a universal truth that is applicable in every context.
As a view that situates the nature of morality in the feelings of the individual and thus sees personal aspirations as a source of morality, individual subjectivism explains the forces that motivate the conduct of individuals. Individual objectivism is not an abstract position that has a goal of identifying an objective foundation of morality that can serve as a foundation of human conduct. Equally, it is not also a position that is motivated by the urge to identify a rational foundation of moral positions. It is not trapped under a rationalistic objective moral philosophy that tries to prescribe moral values that should equally be followed by all the persons that are found in the world. The basic argument of individual subjectivism is that the nature of moral decisions needs to be situated on the choice of the individual. It does not try to establish an intimate relationship between moral propositions and facts. This testifies to the fact that “in ethics, naturalism remains under suspicion” (Rachels, p. 74). This is a moral philosophy that has the capacity of illuminating the context within which moral positions get to originate in the first place. The moral outlook that is developed under individual subjectivism does not gaze towards the existence of a transcendent world that serves as a foundation of moral conduct. On the contrary, it is the individual goals and subjective aspirations of individuals that are being taken into consideration.
Compared to other positions in metaethics, one of the major strengths of individual subjectivism is that it has the power to explain the motivation for the moral conduct of the individual. It gives us an everyday account of morality where individuals that are situated under a particular context based on their life histories, psychological makeup, and subjective aspirations get to engage in the world of morality. This is what makes individual subjectivism different from naturalism’s search for moral facts (Rachels, p. 86). Individual interest is not sacrificed in the process of developing moral statements and as a result of this; individual subjectivism is a position that pays attention to the real and material existence of the individual. It is not motivated by an idealistic philosophy that uses the idea of rationality and thinking human nature as a way of developing moral values that alienate the individual from the context of history and culture. Individual subjectivism respects the rights of the individual and as a result of this, all individuals are being given the equal opportunity to offer and justify their positions to others. What compels the individual to act is the need to maximize one’s pleasure and living in a community where all persons are motivated by personal preferences, there is bound to be a process of argumentation where we try to justify our positions to one another.
Another major aspect of individual subjectivism is that it can explain the nature of moral disagreement. It is not a position that is motivated by the need to arrive at a moral consensus and because of this; it pays attention to those forces that motivate the moral conduct of the individual. Individual subjectivism does not operate in the background of an essentialist philosophy which tries to attain a rational nature to the individual. To this extent, it can be argued that individual subjectivism is a reflective position that explains how individuals come to disagree with one another in their day-to-day encounters. It pictures a world that is populated by individuals and a moral space where diverging conceptions of the ultimate good are going to be entrained. This shows that moral judgments are motivated by real concerns and that they have an element of “practical consideration” (Joyce, 2007, p. 58). It does not envision a system of hierarchical gradation to understand the differences between the moral values of individuals in a hierarchical manner. All positions owe their validity to the individual that has uttered the moral stance in the first place although there is also a possibility for a mutual dialogue among individuals that are living under such a moral universe.
Individual subjectivism situates the nature of moral decisions on the attitudes and preferences of individuals. The critics here allege that there is an inner contradiction with the position of individual subjectivism as it claims that there are no objective moral standards on one hand and on the other hand maintains that there is a moral truth that is to be situated on the outlooks of individuals. This can be resolved if we realize that the individual subjectivist is not denying the existence of moral positions altogether. The individual subjectivist is only assuming that the domain of objectivity cannot be utilized to explain the nature of morality. There is no ultimate moral standard that can be evoked to explain the decisions of individuals. As it is showing by individual subjectivism the choices and preferences of the individual must be situated in the concrete and day-to-day dealings among persons. Individuals that are situated in different historical horizons get to engage one another and this is the basis of moral decision making. All individuals have their own goals and aspirations that they introduce into the world of morality. These views are the moral truths that are expressed in the realm of human encounters. The critics would argue that this is a mere expression of individual opinions and that it inhibits the possibility of moral progr...
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