Moral Non-Realism is a view that moral statements are not true functional in the same way as other statements. This view is not to be confused with moral relativism. While moral relativism asserts that a particular moral statement may have different truth values between person A and person B, moral non-realism asserts that those statements have no truth value.
"My demand of the philosopher is well known: that he take his stand beyond good and evil and treat the illusion of moral judgment as beneath him. This demand follows from an insight that I was the first to articulate: that there are no moral facts. Moral and religious judgments are based on realities that do not exist. Morality is merely an interpretation of certain phenomena — more precisely, a misinterpretation. Moral judgments, like religious ones, belong to a stage of ignorance in which the very concept of the real, and the distinction between what is real and imaginary, are still lacking. "Truth" at this stage designates all sorts of things that we today call "figments of the imagination." Moral judgments are therefore never to be taken literally: so understood, they are always merely absurd."
Correspondence Metaphysics and Moral Non-Realism
One of the primary conceptualizations in moral non-realism has to do with the problems posed for moral statements by the correspondence theory of truth. In the correspondence theory of truth, a proposition is said to have truth value if, and only if, it correspondence to a state of affairs in the world. So, basically:
- The proposition P is true iff *P*.
In this case, P represents a proposition that is being represented by the speaker, and *P* is some state of affairs that corresponds to the proposition P. This approach to the relationship between propositions and facts is not universally accepted in philosophy. One of the historical concerns has been about the ability of correspondence theory to explain a way in which ethical propositions could have truth value.
Many proponents of correspondence theory explain that this is simply a consequence of the Naturalistic Fallacy. This explanation gives way to some form of Moral Non-Realism.
- 1. The proposition "S ought to do x" is true iff it corresponds to some state of affairs such that *OxS*.
- 2. There is no state of affairs such that we can derive an ought statement from a is statement. (Hume's Naturalistic Fallacy)
- 3. There is no possible state of affairs such that *OxS*.
- Therefore, it is not possible that the proposition "S ought to do x" is true.
Generally, this view asserts that deontic statements are meant to explain something other than a state of affairs. There are a handful of theories about the way that deontic statements can be interpreted, and assessed. Some of those ways still ascribe truth value to some proposition, and some of those ways do not.