Groundwork for a Subjective Theory of Ethics
Sapontzis (Steve F.)
Source: American Philosophical Quarterly , Jan., 1990, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Jan., 1990), pp. 27-38
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. This paper will propose a subjective theory of values and discuss the consequences of it for justification in ethics.
  2. This subjective conception of values is based on the following proposition:
    → The existence of valuers is a necessary condition for things having value.
    I call this the "subjective proposition," or "SbP" for short.
  3. A second proposition is also definitive of the position to be developed here:
    → There is no omniscient valuer whose evaluations establish "the true value" of everything.
    This will be called the "secular proposition," or "ScP" for short.
  4. I am primarily interested in explicating and developing the consequences of the subjective proposition. The secular proposition has been added here only to preclude a mauvaise foi way of accepting SbP but avoiding relativism.
    1. Section I is devoted to clarifying how "valuer" and "value" are to be understood here and what the immediate import of these two propositions is.
    2. Section II distinguishes SbP from three other propositions that have been advocated or criticized under the heading of "the subjectivity of values" and similar labels.
    3. Section III discusses consequences of SbP and ScP for justification in ethics.
    4. Section IV discusses and dismisses a concept of universality that is consistent with SbP and ScP.

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