values or norms have a distinctive ontological status. I do not defend ethical naturalism. One of the reasons why I reject the correspondence model of truth for ethical utterances is that I do not believe that values are "out there" to be discovered as part of some moral order. I reject both Sidgwick's self-evident ethical axioms and an ethical naturalism that would represent values as a distinctive kind of empirical fact. Moreover, I do not think that we can derive fundamental moral norms from matters of fact. 1 However, what I did argue is that, even if moral utterances have the status of universalizable decisions of principle, it still can be the case that morality has a point and an underlying social function. It is by noting what kind of activity morality is--why we humans, anywhere and anywhen, have a morality at all--that we can determine what moral claims are warranted and what truth and falsity come to in ethics. The claim to objective validity that Fletcher believes leads me into having it both ways is in reality a claim to an intersubjective validity and must finally rest on a reflective consensus. I am not claiming anything more, but I am also not claiming anything less.
Fletcher also misses my close affinity to Mar x. Because, though not solely because, class divisions are so deep and because of the fact that the dominant capitalist class so effectively controls the consciousness industry, we are presently in a situation where such a reflective consensus cannot be attained. I have argued elsewhere, that the kind of moral point of view I defended in "Morality and the Human Situation" could only become a reality in a genuinely socialist society. 2 Equality is not an "original datum" but an ideal that some people have come to hold--indeed an increasing number of people have come to hold--after, historically speaking, long periods of moral reflection. This ideal will only be achieved or even tolerably approximated through class struggle and with a profoundly altered consciousness, in radically changed socioeconomic conditions. For this to happen the society will have to be both one of relative abundance and a society in which the working class has attained class consciousness. That one or another or both these conditions have not yet been met in the industrial world does not mean they cannot be.
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Publication information: Book title: Humanist Ethics, Dialogue on Basics. Contributors: Morris B. Storer - Editor. Publisher: Prometheus Books. Place of publication: Buffalo, NY. Publication year: 1980. Page number: 72.