Answer ALL of the following questions with clear, detailed essays.

All answers are to be typed (10-12 pt. font, double-spaced), with a proper heading at the top of your submission (name, student ID, semester and year, subject, and section).

All answers are to be restricted to the assigned readings, corresponding lectures, and posted supplements. Outside sources are not permitted in your submissions.

Proper reference to the course material should be given throughout.

Be thorough. Be detailed. Ensure that your essays are well-written, and well-referenced.

The Minimum Conception of Morality

1) What is the “minimum conception of morality”, and what support can be given for it?

Cultural Relativism

2) Discuss Cultural Relativism (CR) – what is it, how is it argued for, and what are the weaknesses of these arguments?  What are the consequences of taking CR seriously? How does Rachels argue that there is less disagreement than it seems, and that all cultures have some values in common?

Subjectivism / Emotivism

3) What is the basic idea behind Subjectivism? Provide an account of Simple Subjectivism, citing at least one central argument. State 2 of the most prominent objections to Simple Subjectivism.

4) Provide a detailed account of Emotivism (Ayer and Stevenson’s view), citing at least one central argument. What are the crucial differences between Simple Subjectivism and Emotivism? How does Emotivism avoid the difficulties facing Simple Subjectivism?

5) Discuss how Emotivism is flawed with respect to its account of moral reasons / judgment.

READINGS BASED ON QUESTIONS & video lectures all needed for if you have an questions

Common vs. Dominant Theories; The Minimum Conception:


(Course content begins at the 25:30 mark in this video.)

Cultural Relativism; Subjectivism / Emotivism:


(Course content begins at the 7:20 mark in this video.)


(Course content begins at the 11:27 mark in this video.)


(Course content begins at the 9:30 mark in this video.)


only chapter 1 and 2 and 3

Common Theories 
(so-called because they are the moral theories most commonly held by non-academics, as well as being common – historically speaking – amongst academics)

Cultural Relativism
Subjectivism / Emotivism
Divine Command Theory / Natural Law Theory

Dominant Theories 
(so-called because they are the theories which dominate the academic literature, and are favored amongst moral philosophers)

Utilitarianism (Consequentialism)

Kantianism (Deontology)
Social Contract Theory (Contractarianism)
Virtue Ethics (Aristotelianism)

·        Supplement on Philosophical Reasoning

These videos are excellent introductions to Philosophical Reasoning and Induction / Abduction:



Supplement on Cultural Relativism

Supplement on Cultural Relativism

1) Here is a great summary of the key points in James Rachels’ “The Challenge of Cultural Relativism”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAwIjx5Ms2A

2) Here is a superb scholarly encyclopedia article on Relativism, for those of you who wish to get a bigger picture of this theory and those related to it:  

Supplement on Metaethics / Subjectivism / Emotivism

Supplement on Metaethics / Subjectivism / Emotivism


Subjectivism and Emotivism, are among a number of metaethical theories, and so it is vital to understand the difference between “ethics” and “metaethics”.

In order to illustrate the difference, consider the following examples:

An “ethical” question might, for example, be something like, “Is it wrong to lie in order to save a life?” 
Here we are asking whether or not such a lie could be permissible, or oven obligatory, and we are concerned to know what reasons might support such views.

A “metaethical” question might, for example, be something like, “What does the word “wrong” mean?” Or, “What is the logic that underlies the concepts of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’?
Here we are asking about ethical concepts themselves, in an effort to learn what the foundations of the relevant concepts are. 

Put another way, an ethical question employs ethical concepts, while a metaethical question analyzes ethical concepts.

Here is a link to an excellent introductory video on Metaethics, provided by Crash Course (a channel I fully recommend):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOoffXFpAlU (Note that this video also includes loose synopses of Cultural Relativism, Subjectivism, Natural Law Theory, and Utilitarianism.)

Subjectivism / Emotivism

This video by Dr. Michael McGowan covers much of the ground we’ve covered so far – as well as discussing some ideas we will soon be exploring in more detail – and culminates in a discussion of Simple Subjectivism. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7LCDl8Zets 

Here is a nice discussion of Ayer’s Emotivism:

Here is a very thorough, well-informed discussion of Emotivism, with a focus on criticism:


Ayer – Language, Truth, and Logic

 Chaptr 6


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