On another website, a reader asked: ""Still can anyone here give a decent and concise version of sophisticated moral subjectivism to be addressed?"
This was my best response:
am not sure how "sophisticated" it is, but let me try.
I see moral subjectivism the way JL Mackie did: it is the negation of moral objectivism. Morals are not properties of the "out there" world and, as such, they are properties of the subject's mental world.
Put further, we may feel or think certain things to be right and good, but we are in error if we think there is any objective reason compelling others to see it the same way. No matter how knock down or drag out our argument is for the rightness of a particlar thing, that argument will always be our opinion of the mattter, not objective fact.
Subjectivists are not, as David seems to be getting at, nihilists. We have as strong ideas about moral oughts as anyone else, and we judge others and ourselves by standards. We also try to convince others to see things morally as we do.
What subjectivists can't do, though, is to think that any moral system - even our own - has necessary import beyond our own subjective minds. We may wish it were different, but in the absence of any great suggestion on how to detect the moral properties that some allege exist in the world, we see morality as a product of individual subjects making individual judgments.
People have a big problem with subjectivism. How, we think, can our strong convictions that pedophilia, murder, homosexuality, bestaility, theft, etc, are simply subjective opinion statements? They feel like more; we want them to be more. We want them to be truths binding on all and all alike, and we want those who disagree with us not simply to be of differing opinion, but to be WRONG.
Heck, even I - a subjectivist - would rather subjectivism be false. Subjectivism is boring, as subjectivism has nothing positive to say in ethics or morals. The only benefit to being a subjectivist is that it allows me to be a pluralist and avoid dogmaatism. But still, I would rather believe that there were definitive rights and wrongs that transcended individual subjective judgment.
The problem is that there is really no evidence for objective morality. As JL Mackie wrote, we do not have any reason to believe that "goodness" is a property in the world and do not even know what such a property would be like (do we see it, smell it, hear it, feel it, or taste it?) Nor does it make sense to say that "good," "bad," "right" and "wrong" are objective terms, in the face of so much disgareement about (a) what they mean, and (b) concrete moral quesitons (is abortion good?).
Further, we know that "good" and "bad" are valuative terms much like "hot" and "cold." Like "hot" and "cold" (or "beautiful" or "ugly") these terms are vaguely descriptive. (We all know what is meant when we say that a song was ugly or say that the beverage is hot.) But we also know that there is no objective standard for what is "hot" or "cold" (my "hot" may be your "lukewarm" and her "cold" with none of us being objectively right or wrong.)
Subjective morality is this kind of view. Even if we all kind of know what is meant by saying things like "Johny did something very bad," or "Jenny is a good human being," there seemingly exists no objective standard - true for all - by which to judge what is good and bad. (And like terms dealing with termpurature, subjectivists see moral terms as often having fuzzy borders).
So, while being a moral subjectivist may confine me to never having the satisfaction of knowing that I am objectively right in my moral judgments, until I hear some good arguments as to where we can find moral qualities in the "out there" universe, I have to remain a subjectivist.