Simple Ethical Subjectivism

Some people claim that morality is just a matter of opinion. We consider the theory of Simple Ethical Subjectivism (SES) to help make sense of this idea.

Principles of SES

A. An action A is morally right iff I (the speaker) approve of A.

B. An action A is morally wrong iff I (the speaker) disapprove of A.

Standard of Clarity

Met, provided we know the speaker and her opinions. Moreover, there are no unintelligible concepts. 'Approval' and 'Disapproval' reasonably clear.

Standard of Coherence

There are no apparent contradictions, and SES is possibly consistent with known facts. After all, we don't perceive moral properties like we do natural properties. We see that the ball is green, but we don't see that the abortion was morally wrong. Perhaps, then, there are no objective moral facts!

Standard of Reflective Equilibrium

The Infallibility Argument
       
  1 If SES is true, moral judgement is equivalent to approval or disapproval.  
  2 We are infallible with respect to our approval or disapproval.  
3 If SES is true, we are infallible with respect to our moral judgements. 1&2
  4 We are not infallible with respect to our moral judgements.  
5 SES is not true. 3&4


The Disagreement Argument
       
  1 If SES is true, then X's sincerely saying 'A is right' is equivalent to X's sincerely saying 'I approve of A' and Y's sincerely saying 'A is wrong' is equivalent to Y's sincerely saying 'I disapprove of A'.  
  2 If X sincerely says 'I approve of A' and Y sincerely says 'I disapprove of A' then X and Y cannot be disagreeing.  
3 If SES is true, then if X sincerely says 'A is right' and Y sincerely says 'A is wrong' then X and Y cannot be disagreeing. 1&2
  4 IF [if X sincerely says 'A is right' and Y sincerely says 'A is wrong' then X and Y cannot be disagreeing], THEN there can be no moral disagreement.  
5 If SES is true, then there can be no moral disagreement. 3&4
  6 There can be moral disagreement.  
7 SES is not true.