We last concluded looking at Feinberg’s criticisms of arguments for psychological egoism.

Looked at argument from nature of action, and finished by examining the argument from pleasure. (IVb. Read it from notes). We considered a twofold criticism of this argument. The first was to ask whether P1 is in fact true—Feinberg was skeptical, so am I (It seems to me that one can successfully execute an action that one voluntarily set out to accomplish and not take pleasure in it—recall the green mile. And for all we know, this is more often the case.) Second, we pointed out that the argument takes it for granted that the presence of pleasure upon successfully completing an action tells us that the action was therefore carried out for the purpose of experiencing pleasure. (Non-sequitur) I gave the example of Joey running every day. We inquire, find out that he finds satisfaction or “pleasure” in running. Can we therefore conclude that the reason that Joey runs is for “pleasure?” No. That might be the case, but it might not. (I spoke to Joey, he’s training for a marathon.) David asked…yes, but if we inquire further, we might find that he is training for the marathon because he finds that pleasurable. In other words, David is asking: look, if we inquire far enough we may find that it is still pleasure that motivates the action and nothing else. This is as interesting question. Now, what Feinberg’s response to it is, is this: If we didn’t care about a thing in the first place, why would we take pleasure in them? (in other words, if all that Joey cared about was pleasure, why choose the marathon? There are many things that yield pleasure other than a marathon.) Does not the fact that Joey takes pleasure in running the marathon indicate that there is something about the action itself that Joey regards to be of value? Put another way, if there wasn’t already something Joey regarded as more intrinsically valuable to running a marathon than eating a bag of chips, on what basis would we be able to make any appeal to the kind of pleasure of winning a marathon as better or higher than the kind of pleasure derived from eating a bag of chips? What Feinberg is suggesting is, there would be none.

So, Feinberg’s point is: Some types of pleasure presuppose that we desire something other than pleasure itself. (Write that sentence on the board). If we didn’t already care about these things, why would we take pleasure in them in the first place? And if we find a basis for caring for one action over another, surely this basis must be grounded not in mere regard for pleasure itself, but in the recognition that some acts are to be valued higher than others based on the nature of the action itself. Now, if this is true, (if someone can act out of interest for the action itself and not ultimately out of regard for pleasure) then we have a case that falsifies the thesis of PE . (Because, recall, according to the argument for from pleasure, the calculation that one will experience pleasure in carrying out an act constitutes the necessary and sufficient conditions for carrying out that act. In other words, according to PE, regard for pleasure serves as the ultimate determinant of whether one acts or not.) Feinberg regards this as false, and to help him point this out he wishes to draw attention to the distinction between actions where Pleasure is the object of desire and Pleasure is a consequence of having and fulfilling some other desire He thinks that the PE defenders fail to recognize this distinction. He motivates this claim by telling the story of Abe Lincoln on the coach. He’s on the coach, claims to the man next to him that any apparently altruistic desires are ultimately grounded in regard for one’s own pleasure of peace of mind. Shortly thereafter the coach passes a sow squealing because her piglets had fallen into a slough and were in danger of drowning. He asks the driver to stop, jumps out, rescues the pigs from the mud, and returns to the coach. Upon his return the person he was speaking to asks “What was the selfishness in this act?” To which he replies that this act was the essence of selfishness. For, had he not helped he would have had no peace of mind all day.” Feinberg comments on this anecdote. (Read paragraph on p. 9) Well, this is as far as we get with a detailed analysis of PE. As noted, there were four arguments that Feinberg addressed for PE, we covered the first two. Focus especially on the first two arguments for PE and Feinberg’s analysis of them. I will make a brief comment about the third, and ignore the fourth in the interest of time. The third argument is the argument from self-deception.

It states that we often deceive ourselves into thinking that we desire something fine or noble when what we really want is to be thought well of . Thus, acts of self interest are often passed off in the guise of virtue or duty. This argument concludes by saying that since we know this often happens, is it not therefore reasonable to suspect that all of our supposedly altruistic actions are really just disguised acts of self interest? (i.e. might we always be deceived when we think our motives noble, disinterested or altruistic)? Recall logic handout: First two arguments (action and pleasure) were deductive. This one is inductive, and it’s a case of weak induction due to hasty generalization.

Now we move on to Emotivism… Ayer’s Essay on Emotivism --Ayer was a philosopher of language. --Proponent Logical Positivism with a very colorful personal life. --If you are curious as to that that means you can read of it in the Stanford Enc. Of Philosophy. (Sidenote, one interesting thing I’ve come to see in my study of philosophy is that there is a remarkable correspondence between the way a philosopher lives and the ideas he espouses.) --Self Professed agnostic—more correctly recognized as an atheist, (Perhaps I’ll say a bit more about this perhaps later.) --The goal in this essay: analyze the content of ethical utterances by examining the function of language. --Incidentally, he thinks that this is the only way one ought to go about writing a philosophical treatise on ethics. --So, ethical treatises “should make no ethical pronouncements,” rather they should consist in an analysis of ethical terms, and thereby show to what category such pronouncements belong. --e.g. he wants to look at statements such as “it is wrong to microwave infants” and examine whether these statements have any propositional truth content. --So, he wants to look at the various types of propositions uttered in the English language and ask “What is the function of ‘ethical claims’ that we find people regularly uttering?” He wants to say that when we look at sentences in the English language can make a generally broad distinction between the types of sentences we find: 1. those that make actual statements about what is true or false, 2. and statements that are simply expressions of feeling, and as such don’t even come under the category of truth and falsehood. He calls them “mere ejaculations.” (e.g. YUCK!!!! We don’t say…”false, it’s all false!”)

So, he says, when we look at propositional language we find various kinds of statements. We find analytic statements: statements about definitions of words (truisms or tautologies) We find synthetic statements: statements that convey truth about the outside world and are in some sense verifiable We find emotive statements: statements that consist in utterances of one’s ‘feelings.’ He wants especially to focus on the latter two types of statements: synthetic and emotive Which class does he place moral statements in? Synthetic statements: 1. It is raining 2. Grass is green 3. E=mc2 (These are statements about what is true or false in the outside world, and as such are empirically verifiable). Now, he says, let’s look at Moral Statements: 1. You acted wrongly in stealing that money. 2. Stealing money is wrong 3. You ought to tell the truth. He notes that these types of statements appear to be operating like regular synthetic statements (making claims about what is the case about the world) and He wants to ask, are these types of statements operating the same way? Put another way, he wishes to ask: Are M statements translatable to S statements? i.e. are statements of ethical value translatable into statements of empirical fact? Why does he ask this? Because of his “verifiability principle” This principle asserts that “a synthetic proposition is significant only if it is empirically verifiable.” In other words, statements that are neither true by definition nor verifiable through the five senses are meaningless. (This claim is the lynchpin of his whole argument). In his analysis of statements of ethical value he distinguishes between “Expressing” and “Asserting”

He says, when you look at moral statements you find that though they have the appearance of assertions, when you examine them you discover they are merely expressions of feelings. So, a statement like “Stealing money is wrong” is analogous to an expression of this sort: “Stealing money…BOO!” He wants to suggest that the additions of words like “ought” or “should” to statements does not add any cognitive content to the expressions. Rather, it only adds an expression of feeling about something. So, when I say: One ought not to microwave infants, Though the sentence appears to be a regular synthetic statement expressing an actual truth about the world, in reality it’s reducible to “Microwaving infants…BOO!” Now you see why he regards ethical statements as mere “ejaculations.” So, according to Ayer moral statements express nothing about objective reality. Rather, they express feelings and are intended to arouse feelings in others and stimulate them to action. So, what is Emotivism? Emotivism: the view that moral sentences have not truth value, but, rather, express feelings of a certain kind and serve to arouse similar feelings in others. This is a rejection of moral realism, the position I explained to you before which contends that ethical statements express actual objective truths about reality Primary argument for Emotivism: Argument from the verification criterion: (See notes, p. 4) Have them look closely at the first premise. Why accept this premise? If the rigor of its own standard is applied to it, it would seem to me that we must reject it. It has to be an exception to the rule it puts forward. (What does premise 1 have to say about religious utterances?) He did the same with them.