Moral objectivism, also known as moral realism, is the philosophical thesis that moral values are
actual, that is, that (depending on the specific theory in question) states of affairs, actions, or things can be good or bad (or right or wrong). Some
moral objectivists in the analytic tradition are Thomas Nagel, Ronald Dworkin,
and Robert Nozick. (Nagel has written an entire book about the related issue of justification,
titled The Last Word.)
Moral objectivism does not necessarily imply a nonconsequentialist ethics; a
utilitarian who claims that it really is good to pursue a course of action that would have
the happiest consequences for as many sentient beings as possible is a moral objectivist.
However, many moral objectivists are nonconsequentialists.
One of moral objectivism's advantages over moral relativism is the fact that it
tends to be much easier to express a consistent objectivist thesis about ethics than to
express a consistent relativist thesis. Some moral objectivists have argued that this
suggests an inherent inconsistency in moral relativism.
An early exploration of moral objectivism and its opposite comes in Plato's dialogue Euthyphro.
In it, Socrates asks Euthryphro the question: ``Is an action good because the gods love it, or do the gods love it because it is good?'' The dialogue, like most of Plato's Socratic dialogues, does
not come to a definite conclusion.