The choice is not between nihilism and "objective moral truth" or moral realism. There are other possibilities like Hume's quasi-realism, for example. To think that the choice is only between moral nihilism, and moral realism, is to commit the black or white fallacy.
Thank you for your response. However, I'm not convinced that I am committing such a fallacy. I think that it is fair to say that either objective moral truth exists, or it doesn't. If there is truly a middle ground between existence and non-existence, I would greatly appreciate it if you could elaborate on what such a middle ground would consist.
Regarding quasi-realism, the following is a quote from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
"Quasi-realism is best thought of not as a philosophical position but as a philosophical program
. The quasi-realist is someone who endorses an anti-realist metaphysical stance...but who seeks, through philosophical maneuvering, to earn the right
for moral discourse to enjoy all the trappings of realist talk."
If quasi-realism is an anti-realist metaphysical stance, then it denies the existence of objective moral truth, and is therefore consistent with moral nihilism (the way I have defined it).
---------- Post added 04-20-2010 at 02:45 PM ----------
Isn't a genetic mandate the ultimate in objective?
It depends on from where the "mandate" comes. I have argued that such a "mandate" may simply be the result of natural selection--and therefore there is no reason to posit the existence of objective moral truth. Also, natural selection (a process that includes randomness) would better account for the wide range of moral disagreement in the world. If the "mandate" came from the actual existence of objective moral truth, one would expect that moral disagreement between individuals would be much less severe and widespread.
---------- Post added 04-20-2010 at 03:01 PM ----------
As phrased, which sounds like a catch, I wouldn't try to refute it. There is no absolute moral truth that I'm aware of. But let's back up: In saying so, you might want to first define what you consider an absolute moral truth to be, lest we be chasing our tails on a term designed to have no substance.
But as I understand it, whether or not there is any objective morality isn't a pertinent question. We have morals (or not) based on a myriad of factors; our interaction with others, innate or ingrained need for cooperation (to some lesser or greater extent), what we've been taught (both explicitly and implicitly through example) and much more. These are the types of sources of each individual's morality and each person's vary according to their disposition; cultures vary, as do nations. This all in spite of any absolute anything.
Besides, "absolute moral"-anything is a paper tiger. Can you show an absolute.. anything? Nothing within the conceptional realm is absolute... and all this before we toss in the word "truth"; which this forum alone has no doubt dedicated terabytes discussion to no avail.
So no, I wouldn't refute it; but so what.
... hoping this adds.
Thank you for your thoughtful post. I would define the "objective" in "objective moral truth" as "applying to all persons, in all places, at all times." An intuitive example would be: "Torturing innocent children for fun is wrong." Objective moral truth would be useful if it existed, as it would enable us to roundly condemn such atrocities as the Holocaust--and to know that such actions are objectively impermissible, period. As a moral nihilist, I am unable to do this--despite the fact that I do have empathy for the victims, and the fact that I would have done everything in my power to help prevent the Holocaust if I had lived during that time. If cultural relativism (which you seem to support) were true, then one could say that for the Nazis, the Holocaust was actually good. This is why I say that moral nihilism is counterintuitive and uncomfortable. Thus, a refutation of moral nihilism would be helpful.