Notes: The Is-Ought problem

I was asked to look at the Is-Ought problem; Scottish philosopher, David Hume’s question about the way people present arguments, which he says is flawed.

For instance:

We evolved to eat meat therefore we ought to eat meat.

Hume says there is a gap in the thinking process here and a more valid argument would be

We evolved to eat meat, we ought to live consistently with our evolution, therefore we ought to eat meat.

Just because something IS doesn’t mean it OUGHT.

We are told in various online films but specifically in a short film on The University of Aukland’s website that (nd);

  1. You can’t draw moral conclusions based on what has occurred previously.
  2. When making moral arguments there must be at least one moral statement in the premise before reaching a conclusion stating moral facts.

The other good video is made by  Radio 4/Open University .

So, I suppose I need to watch out for the way I and others make arguments when writing these essays. We mustn’t assume something OUGHT to be just because it was or IS.

In a way then I suppose the Tweet I saw earlier today (which Richard Prince had re-Tweeted) is dispensing with IS-OUGHT assumptions.


(Acker, 2016)





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