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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Part D of my meta-ethical exchange with Clear404 [Moral necessity defeats God]


Part D of my Youtube PM discussion with the theist Clear404. In this section, I try to explain the necessity involved in morality and try to show how divine command theory (or God-based ethics in general) cannot account for it, while many non-God-based meta-ethical theories can. Clear404 tries to rebut these points. Enjoy:



NoctambulantJoycean, "Re: Re:Meta-ethics Discussion", 6/19/12
Hello Clear 404.

It's been awhile. Thanks for the response.

Let me first say that I've really enjoyed this exchange. I normally don't spend this much time debating theists and get this much out of it. You clearly are intelligent and familiar with what's going on in meta-ethics, so I hope you can pass some of these insights on to your other theistic compatriots on Youtube. I disagree with almost everything you type, but then again I disagree with most philosophers regardless on at least one thing, so whatever.

Anyway, I'm curious about the 12 other features you were talking about that you think DCT best accounts for. I'd like to address them fully, probably as a separate post I'll be doing where I address the kind of theistic DCT/reasons internalism view you advocate. I'll address the rest of what you said by quoting the relevant sections and then responding.

"Is taken by me to be a conceptual truth. Well, no. What I take to be a conceptual truth is that morality prescribes." You probably haven't had a chance to read through the full post given its length and your time-constraints. I actually gave two interpretations of the argument: one where P1 is taken to be a conceptual truth and the other where it is not. I call the former "the conceptual RR" and the latter "the substantive RR." I spend most of section I rebutting the conceptual RR and present my rebuttal of the substantive RR in section IV-D-3b-ii. 

"One way in which requirements come into existence is through being issued by a require... Now, I think that the best explanation of how it has come to pass that there are moral requirements is that they have been issued by a requirer, especially given the phenomenology of morality." I mean, sensing that something is morally wrong is to literally -- I mean quite literally -- to sense that it is 'not to be done'" I accept that one way in which (normative) requirements can come about is through being issued by a mental requirer. But throughout my post I gave a number of arguments meant to show that your account of the mental requirer was implausible even if I granted this assumption. Your mental require is not a plausible source of moral requirements or normative requirements in general. Here are some of the arguments:
1) Section I-B-1b-ii's (and IV-D-1b's) argument that your view amounts to a very poor form of moral subjectivism
2) Section IV-D-2's argument that your position denies the necessity thesis (i.e. moral supervenience) and this results in massive problems for your moral philosophy
3) Sections IV-D-3b-i and IV-D-3b-ii's (also see the last fifth of section IV-D-3c-iii) argument that your God (or mental requirer) accounts for moral phenomenology quite poorly when compared to the other available options, especially moral naturalism.
4) Section IV-D-3e-ii's motivation argument, which you should be familiar with already in the form of Mary and Roy
5) My arguments to you before about how reasons externalism better accounts for morality than your reasons internalism (where real reasons for actions are provided by the punishing mental require) and how none of the points you levied against reasons externalism (metaphysical implausibility, bloating our ontology, etc.) would work on reasons externalism without sinking your reasons internalism. This would leave my Humean subjectivism regarding normative reasons as one of the only options left standing. The intuitions you marshal in favor of reasons internalism are matched (and I would say outmatched) by the intuitions in favor of reasons externalism as well. I will develop this point more in a subsequent post on meta-ethics.
6) Our moral phenomenology actually involves conscious and unconscious reflection on natural properties, as the empirical data I surveyed in section III-E-1 shows. This leads to my additional reference, epistemic, and motivational arguments against your position and in favor of moral naturalism in sections IV-D-3c, IV-D-3d, and IV-D-3e (and their attendant subsections).

So I take myself to have rebutted your claim that the mental requirer you posit adequately explains moral phenomenology or moral realism in general.

"Sensing that something is morally wrong is to literally -- I mean quite literally -- to sense that it is 'not to be done'. And what's that if not an instruction not to do it? It really is as if I'm being told -- told -- not to do something." This goes back to the "psychological requirements/normative requirements" distinction I made in section I-B-2a. I claimed that you equivocate between normative requirements (in this case, "moral requirements") and psychological requirements (where these are the communications of a mind). I supported a meaningful distinction between the two via my anti-subjectivist/anti-non-cognitivist thought experiments in section I-B-2a, the intuitive examples of predictive/psychological/normative requirements I provided in section I-B-2a, the Moorean argument in section I-B-2c, my empirical data from section I-B-3, and section I-B-2b's examples of normative requirements grounded in reasons that do not depend on a mental requirer. You basically agree to this last line of evidence when you said: "The only credible counter-example to my thesis is this one: reason. Reason tells you what to do. But reason -- supposedly -- is not an agent. 
I'm not too bothered by this because a) I think reason is actually an agent - an informed version of myself and b) in my view even if that's true -- even if practical reason can correctly be said to issue instructions - it just doesn't ring true to think of the voice of morality as the voice of reason. Morality instructs". 

In response to a, even on "idealized advisor" views of rationality like Williams' or Joyce's account of internal reasons, there is not an actual, existent agent communicating information to the person; i.e. no P-usage of claims occurs. Instead the ideal advisor is either used as an abstraction to analyze the notion of real reason or rationality, or as a non-existent referent for counterfactual statements regarding rationality. Thus, contrary to a, there is no one telling you what to do on this model of practical rationality. So even you agree to a case where normative requirements (along with normative should, oughts, etc.) do not imply a mental requirer. But you then forget that reasons externalists can use this same line of argument to say that external reasons ground the moral requirements. And I've already gone over how you have not provided any argument for your reasons internalism over reasons externalism. So your concession hear paves the way for the moral case.

"So, er, you are claiming that moral claims are prescriptive because they're prescriptive!! Great! And how do they get to be prescriptive? Is prescriptivity just 'out there' floating about, like some sort of gas?? Tell me how a prescription can come into existence, and do it without using any moral terms." I differentiated three senses of the term "prescriptive." The sense you were addressing here arose from descriptive claims regarding normative properties. These are not psychological communications from a mind; that's the whole of the descriptive/prescriptive (or P/D) distinction. Your reply here again treated a descriptive claim regarding normative properties as the communication of a mind. That's exactly the mistake I was trying to point. I was trying to show that people often use the term "prescriptive" to mean three non-equivalent things. In this case, two of them are "descriptive claims regarding normative properties (ex: normative requirements)" and "the communications of a mind (i.e. psychological requirements)." So I did not posit any "floating prescriptivity" if you mean prescriptivity in the form of a floating communication from a mind telling us what to do. Instead I pointed out a subtle equivocation that showed that moral realism and normative requirements are committed to no such floating communications; one could only think that if one equivocated into discussing psychological requirements.

We can see this equivocating more clearly when you say: "So this first account of how prescriptions come into existence is that I -- an agent -- use certain statements for a certain purpose." If by "prescriptions" you mean the "communications of a mind" then yes, this is correct. But if by "prescriptions" you mean descriptive truths regarding normative properties then: 1) you've just jettisoned any mention of a psychological communication and 2) you would be incorrect: the descriptive statement would still be true regardless of what I, as an agent, thought about it. That's what it means to say it's non-subjectively true. And as I argued in section I-B-2a, descriptive true moral statements regarding existent moral properties are all moral realism required, not psychologically communicated statements from an agent.

"One can claim -- absurdly -- that natural properties prescribe." Obviously most natural properties do not psychologically communicate to people. But as I discussed, moral naturalists (as moral realists) need not say they do. They just need to say moral properties ontologically reduce to natural properties. And then they need to explain our moral discourse in general, especially what we do when we use moral statements to communicate our wishes to other (I will do this in a subsequent post where I outline my Humean subjectivism regarding normative reasons; for a rough idea of what my view would look like, see Jonas Olson 2010 and 2011). We tell one another what to do based on certain properties we care about. But those properties, and the truths regarding them, obtain regardless of what we think about the matter. So roughly, truths like "HIV exists," "raping for the lulz is morally wrong," etc. obtain regardless of what anyone thinks (to say otherwise would be to adopt moral subjectivism, of which one variant is the DCT you advocate) and the properties they refer to non-subjectively exist. We can then tell others what to do based on our concern for these properties, but we should not confuse our telling other people what to do with something essential to moral realism. To reiterate: the former is us psychologically communicating with one another (i.e. P usage) while the latter focuses on the descriptive, non-subjective truths just discussed (i.e. D usage). We sometimes use the term "prescriptivity" or "prescribe" to refer to both of these and thus confuse them (and equivocate between them). Once we make the distinctions necessary to avoid those equivocations, this "prescriptivity" argument against moral naturalism evaporates.

Thanks for the response,
NoctambulantJoycean




NoctambulantJoycean, "Regarding Reasons Externalism", 6/23/12
Hello Clear404.

When I debate people, I'm not in it just to win; I'm trying to clarify my own thinking along with my opponent's. This sometimes involves charitably reinterpreting my opponent's arguments or giving my opponent information they might not have otherwise have access to in order to help them craft stronger arguments. You know, the principle of charity and all that.

Anyway, I was reading Russ Shafer-Landau's "Moral Realism: A Defence" and noticed he has a whole chapter critiquing reasons internalist arguments against reasons externalism. I don't think these arguments against reasons externalism work and neither does Shafer --Landau, though we greatly disagree on why they fail. Nevertheless, it would be disingenuous of me not to share the arguments with you. After all, one central claim of my previous PMs was that you could not take advantage of the nihilist's defense against reasons externalism since these defenses worked just as well against reasons internalism. However, if there are arguments specifically tailored to rebutting reasons externalism, then that's a whole different matter. So I'll briefly present the arguments Shafer-Landau critiques. I'll hold off on my criticisms of these arguments until you place your own unique spin on them (assuming you even choose to employ any of them):

A) The Desire-Dependence Argument
Page 170 (symbols changed due to typographical issues):
1 : Necessarily, if S is morally obligated to X at t, then S has a good reason to X at t
[Moral Rationalism]
2 : Necessarily, if S has a good reason to X at t, then S can be motivated to X at t
[Reasons Internalism]
3 : Necessarily, if S can be motivated to X at t, then S must, at t, either desire to X, or desire to Y, and believe that by X-ing S will Y
[Motivational Humeanism]
4 : Therefore, necessarily, if S is morally obligated to X at t, then S must, at t, either desire to X, or desire to Y, and believe that by X-ing S will Y

This is an internalist argument against versions of moral realism that seek to make moral obligations independent of the desires of the person to which the obligation is applied. The argument's key premise 3 can have its consequent broadened to include not only what an agent currently desires or believes, but also what is in their "subjective motivational set," as discussed below (Shafer-Landau did not make this modification, though he should have).
NOTE: For a paradigmatic example of reasons internalism, please look at Joyce's claim about normative reasons from paragraph 2 of section C2b of my 6/9/12 PM (Joyce thinks that the only normative reasons are internalistic reasons). A's "subjective motivational set" roughly refers to what A+ would advise A to do based on A+'s desire and beliefs (A+ will have all of A's desires, except those desires A would lack if A deliberated correctly, had true non-moral beliefs, and had no false beliefs).

B) The Browbeating Argument
Page 176: "The criticism of externalism is basically that it allows for 'browbeating'; for criticizing someone for failing to adhere to reasons whose existence he denies (Williams 1981a:105-6). Externalism allows for this because it allows for the existence of reasons that have no appropriate link to an individual's motivations. Internalism is thought to prevent this, because on its view all reasons must be within deliberative reach of the agent for whom they are reasons. Externalism is implausible because only it licenses browbeating, a kind of conduct acknowledged by all to be faulty."

C) The Action Explanation Argument
Page 178: "As Williams claims (1981a:106-7), our reasons are linked with the possibility of explaining action. Reasons must figure in action explanation, but if there were reasons that were unrelated to our subjective motivational sets, then they could not possibly explain our actions. Yet it must be possible to explain our actions by citing our reasons for performing them. Therefore reasons must be related to our subjective motivational set. Therefore internalism is true."

D) The Avoidability Argument
Page 181: "Williams (1989) provides us the materials for two further arguments, both of which focus on the notion of blame and its relation to reasons... [symbols and wording changed for expositional convenience]":

1 : If S is properly to blame for X-ing, then S ought to have refrained from X-ing.
2 : If S ought to have refrained from X-ing, then S could have refrained from X-ing.
3 : If S could have refrained from X-ing, then S's avoidance of X-ing must be licensed by [i.e. rationally related to] S's subjective motivational set
[see my note in section A on subjective motivational sets].
4 : Therefore, if S is properly to blame for X-ing, then S's avoidance of X-ing must be licensed by S's subjective motivational set.

The problem for externalists arises from the following argument, whose conclusion contradicts the conclusion of the above argument (I heavily revised Shafer-Landau's presentation of the argument to make it sensible and formally valid):

I : If S is properly to blame for X-ing, then S adhered to a good reason R when S avoided X-ing.
[Seemingly a conceptual truth about blameworthiness]
II : In possible world W, if S adhered to a good reason R when S avoided X-ing, then a) S's avoidance of X-ing adhered to a good reason R that was not licensed by S's subjective motivational set and b) it is not the case that S's avoidance of X-ing was licensed by S's subjective motivational set.
[Reasons Externalism]
III : Therefore, in possible world W, if S is properly to blame for X-ing, then it is not the case that S's avoidance of X-ing was licensed by S's subjective motivational set.

If the Avoidability Argument is plausible and I is really a conceptual truth about blameworthiness, then we need to deny II and thus deny reasons externalism.

E) The Unfair Choices Argument
The other Williams argument relating blame and reasons:
Page 183 (symbols changed due to typographical issues): "Consider an act, X, whose omission is morally condemnable. Suppose that X is also rationally impossible for a person to perform; nothing in her existing motivations is rationally related to X-ing. Internalists may claim that blaming this person for not X-ing is giving her an unpalatable choice: either subject yourself to blame (for not X-ing), or do something (X) which is irrational for you to do. Forcing such a choice is surely unfair. Only externalists force such choices."

F) Shafer-Landau offers two arguments against reasons internalism. These arguments hinge on examples in which people can have reasons to do things rationally unrelated to their current motivational set (ex: a shy anti-social person keeping themselves secluded from others has a real reason to break out of their shell and reach out to others even though they believe doing so will make them miserable) or examples in which people can be blamed for things unconnected to their motivational set (such as a misanthrope murdering people and believing there is no compelling reason to stop, regardless of that we tell them). However, your version of reasons internalism involves a being punishing people and thus making it in their interests to obey its commands. These commands could include venturing out to meet other people and not murdering. So not murdering would be connected to the misanthrope's motivational set, as would venturing out for the anti-social person's motivational set. Thus both the link between one's subjective motivational set and one's reasons, and the link between one's reasons and blame, could thus be maintained. You could count this as a mark in favor of your moral reasons internalism over other accounts, though I still think there are major problems with such a defense.

Hope this was food for thought. I'm not trying to trick you into supporting arguments I can easily rebut. I'm just trying to be honest/forthcoming with the information I've learned and show you some of the arguments internalists have offered against reasons externalism. If you want, you can come up with your own arguments against reasons externalism and ignore what I've written.

Thanks,
NoctambulantJoycean




Clear404, "Re:Regarding reasons externalism", 6/24/12
Hi
thanks for this - I will get back to you. I am - when i have moments - reflecting on your k3a and will reply to that shortly. I am not persuaded that moral truths need to be necessary truths in order to make sense of how we reason about moral matters, ( even if it is I still think that the 'devil's advocate' version of DCT delivers exactly the right kind of necessity). That's not an argument, of course - I will present that shortly.




NoctambulantJoycean, "Revision to my position", 7/3/12
Hello Clear404.

I will be brief. I am revising my position from my previous PMs. I underestimated how much justification I would need before claiming something was a conceptual truth. So for most of the sections where I make claims about conceptual truths, take these to instead be intuitive arguments against your position. I'm still arguing your position is counterintuitive and that this counts as evidence against your position. It's just that for most of the intuitions in question, I am retracting my claim that they are moral conceptual intuitions.

Thanks,
NoctambulantJoycean




Clear404, "Re: Re:Meta-ethics discussion", 7/3/12
Hi,

I will delay replying to your points about reasons and desires etc as I need to think more about the matter.

I am going to continue to address the issues raised in your K2.

At this point we're talking about the 'devil's advocate' version of DCT. Let's call that DDCT to distinguish it from my actual position.

You say that the naturalist secures something stronger than the DDCT. My reply is that yes it can, but that this is an empty victory as my DDCT secures exactly as much necessity as anyone can reasonable think required.

Your naturalist says that the utility principle is true in ALL possible worlds.

My DDCT cannot say this because my DDCT has to concede that in worlds where god is not a utilitarian, morality does not exist.

I don't think that should phase anyone. Quite the reverse -- it is to the credit of the DDCT that it can say this, for it thereby allows the possibility that nihilism might be true and this is not a possibility that should be precluded. By precluding it the naturalist makes their position less plausible, not more.

First, what the DDCT secures is the following: there is no possible world in which moral properties are distributed differently to how they are in the actual world.

That's as much as anyone wants, surely?

DDCT doesn't rule out nihilism. But that's to its credit. Do you really want to say that it is impossible that nihilism could be true? That seems far too strong. And it reflects badly on a naturalist that they might have to say this.

I say 'might' because it is possible for a naturalist to allow that it is possible nihilism is true. Perhaps morality -- the reality of moral requirements anyway - requires indeterminism because morality might require that we possess a certain sort of free will and this sort of free will requires indeterminism. Not saying that's true -- though it does seem to me to be at least passingly plausible. This naturalist could then say that there are possible worlds that are identical to this one in terms of all the events that occur, except that it differs insofar as determinism reigns. In such a possible world morality would not exist.

So, yes, a naturalist can also admit that nihilism could be true in a world that is (in most respects) otherwise identical to the actual world. But that sort of naturalist has secured for morality the same 'strength' of necessity as has been secured by my DDCT.

So it seems to me the DDCT can secure every kind of necessity for moral requirements one might want.


Nevertheless, I don't actually hold DDCT. I don't think there's any real problem in holding that moral requirements are arbitrary in the sense that there are possible worlds in which they're quite different.

You deny this in your K3a. So I'll address that now. You say that 'moral necessity is crucial to morality' because it is essential, in some way, to how we reason about moral matters. We engage in thought experiments -- experiments which ask us to imagine possible states of affairs etc.

To test this let's just imagine that my DCT is true and see if we find we can't reason about moral matters in the ways you suggest. Let's assume a realist version of DCT. So god exists and our moral sense is a sense of what god wants. We don't have to realise this, of course (DCT -- my version anyway -- is not a view about what our moral terms 'mean' but a theory about what they refer to). But let's just imagine that we are all convinced DCTists as well. So we all think our moral sense is a sense of what god wants. It is, if you like, a sense of god's tastes in actions.

When it is Christmas time I have to buy people presents. I'm not always sure what they'd like - but I have a fairly good sense of their tastes and I make judgements based on that. And I reason about these matters. I think 'would they like this object -- x? Well, I'm not sure -- but when I think about object y I'm sure they'd like that. And y shares a lot of characteristics with x. So that gives me some reason to think they'd like x. Then I think about object t. I'm fairly sure they'd like object t, and t shares other characteristics with x. I conclude that they'd probably like x.

Someone else insists that they wouldn't like x and that I should buy them something different. We get into an argument. I point out that x shares characteristics with y, and surely the person I'm buying for likes objects like y. The other person agrees about y objects, but then invites me to think about objects such as R. I do, and my sense of this person's taste tells me that they'd hate objects such as R. My opponent then points out that objects such as R are similar in some respects to objects such as x and that this therefore gives me some reason to think that the person I'm buying for will dislike x. And so on.

And perhaps, as I'm browsing, I could come across something I'd never seen before -- or perhaps someone could tell me about something -- and I could immediately sense 'oh, so-and-so would like one of those' or 'oh, so and so would hate one of those'.

This is analogous to the kind of reasoning we engage in when trying to figure out what the right thing to do is. And we can use thought experiments a plenty. It all helps. And it would all make sense on my view, given that on my view our moral sense is a sense of God's tastes in actions.

And note that at no point did I need to assume that the friend I was buying Christmas presents for likes what they like 'necessarily'. I can accept that there are possible worlds in which my friend has quite different tastes. That doesn't in any way preclude me wondering what they actually like, and engaging in thought experiments etc to try and clarify the matter.

The same is true for god's taste in actions. The idea that moral reasoning presupposes that moral truths are necessary truths is, so far as I can see, just plain false.

So, on my view we can hear about the holocaust and judge it to be wrong and at no point does this require us to assume that the wrongness of it is 'necessary'. There are possible worlds in which god approves of the holocaust. This doesn't appear to be one of them. This, the actual world, appears to be a place in which god's tastes in actions are such that he really, really hates the holocaust. That's how it seems to me!

So, I do not see why the kind of moral reasoning and speculation that we typically engage in should be seen as in some way requiring or presupposing that moral truths are necessary truths. I just plain don't see this at all.




NoctambulantJoycean, "Re: Re:Meta-ethics Discussion", 7/8/12
Hello Clear404.

Thanks for the response. Very well thought out; the analogy between God and a person you're getting presents for was particularly insightful. Reflecting on that example is actually why I took relatively longer in responding.

K4a) This section will deal with your points about DDCT allowing for the possibility that moral nihilism is true. You say that "it is to the credit of the DDCT that it can say this, for it thereby allows the possibility that nihilism might be true and this is not a possibility that should be precluded. By precluding it the naturalist makes their position less plausible, not more." I do not agree with this and explained why in section K3b of my 6/19/12 PM, particularly paragraph 1 of that section.

I also think you have misunderstood the naturalist's metaphysically necessary moral truths. As per paragraph 2 of section K3a, some of these truths take the form

Moral conditional M : "If agent X did Y in context C, then agent X did something wrong."

The consequent of the M can be modified into various forms to produce various moral statements. For example, the consequent could be changed to "...then agent X is morally required to do Y." The antecedent can also be changed to result in different moral statements. Now how specific one makes the antecedent will depend on whether one is a moral generalist or moral particularist (or how much of a generalist or particularist one is). The more conditions you think need to be included in C, the more of a moral particularist you are; the less conditions you think need to be included in C, the more of a moral generalist you are. Same idea holds for some definitions of moral absolutism. Under some definitions of moral absolutism, moral absolutists think certain actions are always wrong or should not be done, regardless of context. For instance, the standard, undergraduate strawman of Kant holds that Kant thought lying was always morally prohibited. So for such absolutists, you might not even need to provide a C: the M would thus be "If agent X lied, then agent X did something X is morally required not to do."

Now just as C can hold contain contextual features such as the consequences of Y foreseeable by X, X's motivations for doing X, past events that preceded action Y, etc. (what one includes here will depend on what one thinks the morally-relevant features are based on one's ethical views [utilitarianism versus deontology versus...]), C can contain facts about whether agent X has libertarian free will, whether the world X lives in is deterministic, etc. So the moral naturalist will offer different necessarily true Ms, depending on what they think is required for moral properties, moral requirements, etc. to exist. So suppose a naturalist thought you could only be morally obligated to do something if you had libertarian free will. This goes along with your example of, "this naturalist could then say that there are possible worlds that are identical to this one in terms of all the events that occur, except that it differs insofar as determinism reigns. In such a possible world morality would not exist". So the naturalist would include non-determinism in C and thus defend the following conditional

M1 : "If agent X did Y in context C (where context C must include X having libertarian free will in a non-deterministic world), then agent X's action Y was morally required.

Now the naturalist would claim M1 is necessary a posteriori truth. As I discussed in paragraph 2 of section K3a, M1 would be made true because in every world where the antecedent is met, the consequent is also met. This would make M1 true even in worlds with no libertarian free will because M1: 1) is a conditional and conditionals in propositional logic are not falsified by falsifying their antecedent and 2) is a counterfactual truth. Counterfactual truths such as "If Nixon lost the election, Nixon would have been miserable" can be true even in worlds where the antecedent is not met [ex: worlds where Nixon won the election] as long as in every world where the antecedent is met, the consequent is met.

The difference between the nihilist and the naturalist is whether they think there are any existent moral properties; i.e. whether there are any M's whose consequents say that moral properties (such a moral requirements, good, wrong, etc.) exist and whose antecedents are met in the actual world. The naturalist could accept that there is a possible world W2 where determinism reigns and thus there are no moral obligations. This is no big deal for the naturalist. They probably accept there are possible worlds with no sentient life and thus possible worlds where no moral properties are instantiated. However, M1 is still true in world W2. And if W2 were actual, the nihilist would be right in saying no moral properties existed since W2 did not meet the conditions of M1s antecedent. So the naturalist can affirm the propositions like M1 are necessarily true, while allowing that moral nihilism is correct in some possible worlds. An analogy might help. I could accept the following claim:

G1 : If an omnipotent + omniscient + omnibenevolent being existed, then God exists.

was necessarily true, while still being an atheist. A theist would hold that the antecedent is met in the actual world and thus a God exists, while the atheist holds the antecedent is not met and thus no God actually exists. That's exactly what's happening with the moral naturalist versus the nihilist: it's a debate about whether there are any Ms whose antecedents are met in the actual world and whose consequent claim that moral properties exist.

But here's where you make your mistake: you claim that the "naturalist can also admit that nihilism could be true in a world that is (in most respects) otherwise identical to the actual world. But that sort of naturalist has secured for morality the same 'strength' of necessity as has been secured by my DDCT." That's false. Your DDCT involves Ms where C that includes facts about what God punishes people for. The naturalist's M includes a C that makes no mention of that fact. That's what I was trying to get at in paragraphs 4-6 of section K3a. There could be worlds exactly like our world in the sense of having exactly the same causal histories, non-deterministic make-up, motivations for actors, etc. and thus have C specified in the way the moral naturalist wants. The naturalist would then claim the moral properties in those worlds were distributed EXACTLY like the moral properties in our world. But on both your DCT and DDCT, Y could turn out to be wrong or no wrong, morally required or not required, etc. SOLELY based on what God decided to punish and thus the distribution of moral requirements would differ. That's one of the the core problems: you're including things in C that, intuitively, should not be in C. This includes facts about what God punishes.

To put it more starkly, there is a world F2 exactly like the actual world (in terms of non-moral facts) one except for one fact: God would have punished Hitler severely if Hitler prevented the Holocaust and would reward Hitler immensely for facilitating the Holocaust. On your DDCT (and your DCT), in F2, Hitler was not morally required to prevent the Holocaust. And that's one reason your view is so counterintuitive. It's not that you allow for possible worlds where moral nihilism is true. It's that you allow moral requirements and moral realism to fail PRECISELY in the worlds where we would expect it to hold. You've included irrelevant stuff in C. To borrow a phrase from my section K3a, "you've also made moral requirements responsive to the wrong kind of thing. This is the same mistake moral subjectivists make when they say moral requirements change with people's opinion of what counts as moral." The moral naturalist does not do this since they do not include facts about what God punishes in C. So the moral naturalist will be more than happy to say Hitler was morally required to prevent the Holocaust in F2. This is why you're wrong when you say "what the DDCT secures is the following: there is no possible world in which moral properties are distributed differently to how they are in the actual world. That's as much as anyone wants, surely?" No. There are worlds such as F2 which are exactly like ours with respect to the consequences of people's actions, people's motivations, etc. and differing only in what God chooses to punish or reward. And on your DDCT (and your DCT), but not on the moral naturalist's view, the moral properties are distributed differently since certain actions which are morally required in our world are not morally required in F2. So you're also wrong when you say, "DDCT can secure every kind of necessity for moral requirements one might want, " since DDCT cannot affirm the necessity of Ms where C makes no mention of what God chooses to reward or punish, while moral naturalism can affirm the necessity of those Ms.

K4b) This section will deal with your "Christmas present" analogy and its use in defending your DCT. You say, "on my view we can hear about the holocaust and judge it to be wrong." I agree with that; your view uses the standard techniques of normative philosophy IN ADDITION to inquiries about what God wants. So I have no problem with your method of figuring out what the God of our world (the actual world) wants us to do. Your "present" analogy worked in that respect.

Instead, my problem is what you say next: "...judge it to be wrong and at no point does this require us to assume that the wrongness of it is 'necessary'. There are possible worlds in which god approves of the holocaust." No. I, and I think most other people (for instance, see Nucci and Turiel's paper "God's Word, Religious Rules, and Their Relation to Christian and Jewish Children's Concepts of Morality"), want to say that in every possible world that is exactly like ours except God punishes and rewards different acts (ex: world F2), we are still morally required to prevent the Holocaust. It's a matter of DEPENDENCY: we want the moral properties to depend on the right sort of thing. Same holds for our moral motivations (that was the core contention of my motivation argument from section G of my 6/3.12 PM). This becomes a matter of NECESSITY when we want the following M2 to be true in every possible world:

M2 : If Hitler allowed the Holocaust in context C (where context C includes all the non-moral facts about our world EXCEPT facts about what God chooses to punish and not punish), then Hitler did something he was morally required not to do.

The moral naturalist (and most non-God-centric versions of moral realism, for that matter) can affirm the necessity of M2 while your DCT cannot. Now though it's could be unlikely that God would change it's mind about what to punish (given your "present" analogy), it's still possible. And most of us would feel uncomfortable with the idea that JUST BECAUSE God changed its mind on what to punish, our moral requirements would go out the window.

To put it another way, imagine the space of possible worlds as a map, with different possible worlds "closer" or "farther" away from each other based on how similar or different they are. So a world where Clinton loses the 1996 election is much closer to our world than a world where no human life ever existed. When we try to plan for the future, we imagine possible worlds relatively close to our own, i.e. worlds that do not dramatically differ from the actual world. For example, when I use thought experiments to imagine the best way to get to the barber, I keep the natural laws, causal history, etc. of the world constant while just manipulating the route I take. Analogously, when we think about the moral implications of our actions, we are usually (but certainly not always) focused on worlds relatively close to our own. The problem with your view is that it allows for worlds relatively close to our own (ex: world F2), to have radically different distribution of moral requirements/moral properties due to what should be an intuitively irrelevant difference: what God chooses to punish.

Hope that clears things up. Feel free to reply.
NoctambulantJoycean