Realism refers to someone who believes that moral judgments have truth values and can accurately be described as either true or false. A moral realist believes that moral properties live in the world and are free of realities which exist outside of our consciousness. A moral realist supports that morals are revealed by our consciousness and contrary to subjectivism, refutes that moral distinctions are a result of our emotional reactions. Subjectivism on the other hand supports the idea that moral judgments are simply personal expressions of feeling and that ethical judgments cannot be said to be correct or incorrect. For a realist, personal expressions of feelings and moral judgments have no truth values and if moral conflict exists, it cannot be determined, because no objective standard exists to which one can demand.
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The areas of disagreement between realism and subjectivism are cognitivism, descriptivism, moral truth, moral knowledge, and moral objectivity. The long and intractable history of realism and subjectivism argument has been shaped and reshaped over centuries. On one hand cognitivism, descriptivism, moral truth, moral knowledge, and moral objectivity are sufficient conditions for realism but ignore subjectivism. On the other hand, defining realism in a way that accommodates subjectivism concedes too much because unlike realism, subjectivism disproves that moral facts are explanatory.
In realism, moral facts are certain and abstract entities, and as such, are different in kind from natural facts. One cannot literally display moral facts but can display a token of the type; such limitations of experience do not stop realists and antirealists from disagreeing on virtually every aspect of the moral practices that seem to assume the existence of moral facts. The list of challenging areas includes moral language, moral truth, moral knowledge, moral objectivity, moral psychology, and so on. These areas are not disconnected but blend together.
In realism, moral sentences are usually true and that a sentence is true only if the truth making relation grasps between it and the thing that makes it true, meaning that moral sentences are only true because there is a truth-making relation between them and the things that make them true, consequently the things that make some moral sentences true must exist. While in subjectivism is non-descriptivist in claiming that no moral sentences are true for they do not describe how the world is and that a sentence can be true even if there holds no truth-making relation between it and the thing that makes it true.
If moral judgments are articulated by commands, then there cannot be moral truths. And if there are no moral truths, then no moral judgments may be cited as evidence for knowing how the world is. Moral knowledge can no longer be considered as expressive and no one is justified in believing certain things about the world in making moral judgments. This illustrates how Subjectivism study of moral judgments can be escalated into its rejection of moral truths and moral knowledge. Subjectivism threatens moral objectivity as well. Objectivity is to be found within the world. If moral judgments are not about accurately describing the world then moral objectivity will not be found within the world. However should we study closely the beliefs of both realism and subjectivism, we will realize that they are just the same only that realism generalizes while subjectivism specifies.
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