Can someone better articulate this for me?

This particular point was made by Peter Kreeft

“Perhaps society conditions value opinions in us, but that does not mean society conditions values in us, unless values are nothing but value opinions, which is precisely the point at issue, the conclusion. So the argument again begs the question.”

Perhaps I have trouble with begging the question. Also, what does he mean UNLESS values are nothing but value opinions. And that that is the conclusion??


He seems to be pointing out that pluralism is consistent with moral objectivity (and so does not imply anything like relativism). The defender of moral objectivity need not deny that societies believe different things about the nature of morality and that our moral behaviors and beliefs largely have to do in the culture we grow up in.

That is to say that we can have socially determined value opinions without the possibility of objective values being undermined.

Begging the question is the fallacy of circular reasoning. Your interlocutor “begs the question” when he cannot arrive upon his conclusion without assuming that his conclusion is true, that your conclusion is false, or something similar (ie. using a fact which is epistemically posterior to his conclusion).

In this case, it seems that Kreeft is saying that those defending relativism (I’m assuming) on the basis of pluralism and the existence of different socially determined value opinions beg the question to claim that this implies moral relativism or the nonexistence of objective moral values.

I’ll try, society may give us opinions , that have worth, but doesn’t necessarily mean that we accept those opinions, or change our opinions. If all we have are good opinions, then the question is never answered, it still remains. It seems to say to me that as long as our opinions are subjective and not objective according to reality the problem remains unanswered

I’ll try: society values opinions but that doesn’t mean the values in us (objective values)
are important unless our values match the opinions majority of society holds.

Polytropos how would you argue against this in that it is begging the question? Or how would Peter Kreeft.

“I do not believe that there can be a universal moral code. This is because of the differences in different cultures, including the practices and customs of different societies.”

Kreeft seems to be saying: For the argument to be valid, the different moral codes conditioned in us by different cultures would have to consist not just in “value opinions” but in “values” (meaning that the values just are value opinions). But to assume that values and value opinions are the same thing is to assume that moral relativism is true, which is what the argument set out to demonstrate. (So it begs the question, on that reading.)

I personally would probably not say that that argument begs the question. It seems simpler to point out that the inference from “There are differences in different cultures, including the practices and customs of different societies” to “There is no universal moral code” is a non-sequitur; it does not follow. That is for the reasons Kreeft pointed out; our being inculcated with different values opinions in different societies just means that we do not have the same belief about the moral code, which is consistent with there being a universal moral code.

Thanks :slight_smile:

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