Emma Woolgatherer wrote:But if you think that a value judgement can be a statement of fact, could you give an example?
well, I already have! The statement about the Nazis and the Jews. But the more I think about this, the more I think that there can be aesthetic facts as well as moral facts (maybe not many of the former). Take the statement "William Shakespeare was a great writer". This is virtually universally accepted (I know G. B. Shaw may have demurred, maybe others, but they are insignificant numerically); however, the crucial point is that, as with the moral fact of the Nazis' evil, it is in fact hard to think how a contrary case could be made (in view of WS's skill, output and insight). To all intents and purposes these are facts which in many ways compare favourably in reliability with the seemingly "objective" statement "The human race evolved by natural selection", which is far less widely accepted and in fact is impossible to verify.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
animist wrote:The difference between ethical and aesthetic in this respect is one of degree, I agree, but if you say that a picture is beautiful and I say it is not, there is, I think, less you can do to convince me of what you say than in the case of a moral judgment such as that killing innocent people is wrong. Your book example is different, and in fact I think that "this book is good" does not mean I like this book. But that is because the statement may well be an opinion on the skill or accuracy of the author in expressing whatever the book did express, ie it need not be an aesthetic judgment as such
No, it needn't. There are bound to be other value judgements involved, not just aesthetic ones. But still largely subjective ones.
but how are we to decide which judgments are subjective and which objective? Skill is something which is largely objective, accuracy even more so
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
animist wrote: Can I get back to my first post, in which I said that facts are true statements: unless you disagree with that, or unless you do not think that the Nazis were wrong to persecute the Jews (and therefore that that statement is true) how can you deny that it is a moral fact?
Ah. I think the word "fact" is ambiguous. You're right: it can
mean simply a true statement. But it can also mean some state of affairs in the world, some element of objective reality.
no, you are simply begging the question - and avoiding my question - by making a spurious distinction between "simply" true and "factual" which I am not sure that even you really believe.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Matt defined a "moral fact" as a "true moral claim about reality", which to me implied something more than my own subjective moral values, or even the subjective moral values shared by millions.
yes, but not something more than "true".
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Just as, if an "aesthetic fact" were defined as a "true aesthetic fact about reality", that would imply something more than my own subjective aesthetic values, or the subjective aesthetic values shared by millions. So, if I say, "The Nazis were wrong to try to exterminate the Jews", I could be said to be making a (true) statement about my own moral values (which I happen to share with many others), rather than about the world outside my own head.
No, no, no!!! Sorry to go stentorian, but if you make that statement you are emphatically NOT talking about yourself, which is what you seem to be suggesting - you are talking about the Nazis. What you are now trying to propose as some sort of subjectivist "translation" of the statement is absurd, for how could you make a "false" statement about what is inside your own head? What could this mean? Look, imagine you actually made the statement to some nazi type (with some passion, I trust). You might reasonably expect him to react in various ways - he could deny that there was such an attempt, or justify it, or whatever, but what you would NOT expect or want him to do is smirk and say "Ah, but I know you are just talking about your own subjective opinions, because that is all you ever do - you said so yourself; and anyway, how I am to know that you really do believe this?".
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:It could be described as a fact, in the sense of "a true statement", just as "This cake is delicious" could be described as a fact, in the sense of "a true statement", if we acknowledge that words like "wrong" and "delicious" are by nature subjective, so we don't have to qualify them with "I think" or "In my opinion".
no, adding "In my opinion" adds nothing to any statement, whatever sort it is, except to indicate lack of certainty, and in making moral judgments we often do add this qualifier (maybe less often with aesthetic statements, but we do even here, eg "In my humble opinion, this is tosh") - anyway, the point is just not relevant.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:But I didn't think Matt was using "fact" in that way.
TBH, I don't know or care exactly how he was using it, and I doubt if he was aware of the distinction - since it is you who have now improvised it, as you did with "quasi-facts". This is fair enough from your viewpoint, but I simply don't accept the wedge you are trying to drive between "true" and "factual": these concepts are far too close to be distinguished just so you can deny that there are moral facts. Suppose the question had said "truths" instead of "facts" - would it have made a difference to you?
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:What I thought Matt was getting at was the idea that he touched on in the other thread about grounds for being a Humanist, when he said that "I think that there is good reason to believe that ethical non-naturalism is true". My impression was that he thinks that "moral facts" do exist and are thus evidence of the existence of something other than the natural world.
well, interesting example, and of course I would not accept that the existence of moral facts has any implications for metaphysical non-naturalism. I have already queried this with him, because I think he may misunderstood what ethical non-naturalism is - it is nothing to do with the supernatural.