There is not a new reading for this assignment. Answer the following in 600 words.
Regarding the last question from the last assignment, there is usually some agreement
that concepts which are untestable are unscientific, but also some divergence of opinion
on the further status of these concepts. So, in continuing that line of thought:
1. What is the ontological status of concepts like right and wrong, good and evil,
beautiful and ugly? In other words, do these entities exist outside human psychology?
If all humans disappeared, would these concepts continue to exist? If you say these
concepts do exist outside ourselves, how do we discover their existence and properties?
2. If you say these concepts exist inside the psyche of each person, how can one avoid
their completely subjective nature? If everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, must you
remain mute when someone claims:
(a) Motley Crue has written much better music than W.A. Mozart.
(b) A piece of chewed gum stuck to a wall is much more beautiful than a painting by Monet.
(c) The world would be a much better place if the Germans had won World War II.
(d) Albert Schweitzer was a terrible human being.
3. Does popularity provide any assistance in answering these questions? If most people
agree that something is right or wrong, does that make it right or wrong? If most critics
agree that a film is very good, does that make it so?
4. There are many religions and other philosophies which make metaphysical claims about
a reality beyond the senses. If we are not allowed to use empirical evidence to decide
between them, what do we have left to decide between them? How could you convince
someone else about the validity of one over another?
Again, be aware of what a purely subjective stance implies: (1) you can never say that a
music album you enjoy is any better than an album you despise or a blaring car horn
(2) you cannot tell someone that steals your money that they did something "wrong" or
“unfair" because these imply objective standards of right and wrong (3) you cannot suggest
to suicide bombers that their religious motivations are mistaken.
5. Are you really willing to accept this complete relativity? If not, how can one decide
between competing beliefs on questions like these?