I know philosophers get very exercised about this, but I just can’t see it being more than the old adage: the hobgoblin of little minds is consistency.
Indeed, in the world beyond grade school, where adults must exercise their moral knowledge and reasoning to conduct themselves in the society, the stakes are greater. There, consistency demands that we acknowledge the existence of moral facts. If it’s not true that it’s wrong to murder a cartoonist with whom one disagrees, then how can we be outraged? If there are no truths about what is good or valuable or right, how can we prosecute people for crimes against humanity? If it’s not true that all humans are created equal, then why vote for any political system that doesn’t benefit you over others?
I do not have to “acknowledge the existence of moral facts” to be consistent… or even to not murder! How do I know this? Because for 52 years I have not murdered anyone, and I’ve been remarkably consistent in my outrage at the murder of cartoonists, my zeal to prosecute crimes against humanity, and my willingness to vote for egalitarian political processes and outcomes as if I were behind a veil of ignorance. The hard job of moral philosophy, it seems to me, is explaining why people like me, who see no need to use a language of “moral facts” can nevertheless have exactly the same outcomes and behaviors and thoughts as people who do… or maybe even better ones (more beautiful because messy like an abstract expressionist, rather than tidily consistent like a Mondrian).
via Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts – NYTimes.com.