Values and Objectivity

This module covers core theoretical questions surrounding the nature and status of normative claims: those involving moral, political, or other values. We explore whether normative claims admit truth or falsity, or whether they are merely expressions of preference: whether such claims can be objectively warranted, or are ultimately ‘subjective’. Typically, themes to be treated include: the meaning of words such as ‘ought’ and ‘good’; the relationship between values and facts; the Frege-Geach problem; the place of motivation in value judgments. Key ‘metaethical’ theories, such as naturalistic and non-naturalistic realism, emotivism and prescriptivism, will be outlined and explored. The module aims to develop an understanding of the nature of value claims, an understanding of what it might mean to regard value claims as either ‘subjective’ or ‘objective’, an understanding of the costs and benefits of regarding value claims as truth-apt/non-truth-apt and a familiarity with debates within contemporary metaethics.