What is the difference between Factual and Moral Judgement?

Moral Judgements are judgements upon actions or motives of intention of the agents of actions. So in this respect they are quite different from factual judgements or assertive judgements.

Judgements in logic express the relation between any two concepts. They do not indicate any evaluating function or objection. A moral judgement on the otherhand, is not judgement about a fact. Muirhead says that the moral judgement is not a judgement in the logical sense of a proposition.

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In a moral judgement there is an implicit reference to a standard or room or an ideal. For example, when we say that bodily pleasure is not valued as the supreme happiness in Indian tradition, we have something before us as the highest ideal. This ideal may be renunciation or a perfect spiritual life.


In a factual or descriptive judgement, however there is no reference to such an ideal. It expresses one acquaintance with the fact. It simply describes a state of affairs.

A moral judgement is sometimes obligatory. When someone says that an offence ought to be honest even amidst all temptations, the statement is binding on the offences atleast from the side of the speaker. The hearer is forced to follow the ideal or not. This is not expected of a factual judgement. That is why according to some recent day moral thinkers moral judgements are prescriptive in character whereas the factual judgements are descriptive in character.

Lillie calls the moral judgements as appreciative judgements and the factual judgements as descriptive judgements. Water is composed of hydrogen and Oxygen, is a descriptive or factual judgement, but to speak the truth is always right is a judgement of value.

Again there may be some misunderstanding in one distinction between a factual and a moral judgement. First of all, it might be held that a factual judgement is objective in nature as it describes a situation or a state of affairs and a moral judgement is subjective as it expresses a feeling, emotion or appreciation of a person.


This view is wrong. Lillie rightly points out that both factual and moral judgements may be termed as subjective as they come from the human mind. Again certain moral judgements carry objective validity. Therefore, it is wrong to distinguish the two kinds of judgements in this way.

The other source of confusion is that sometimes we regard true judgements as morally superior to false judgements as we regard the person always speaking the truth to be morally considered to a person telling a lie.

Moral judgements are evaluative in character. In this sense all proper moral judgements are of the same type, whether they are upon falsehood or truth. This does not discard the position that a person speaking the truth and a person in the habit of telling a lie are distinguished by their habit. But this distinction is nothing to do with the distinction between a factual and a moral judgement or a superior or inferior moral judgement. Of course, no such distinction is allowed in ethics.

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