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Moral Reality and the Empirical Sciences

New York: Routledge (2018)

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  1. Why Metaethics Needs Empirical Moral Psychology.Jeroen Hopster & Michael Klenk - 2020 - Critica 52 (155).
    What is the significance of empirical moral psychology for metaethics? In this article we take up Michael Ruse’s evolutionary debunking argument against moral realism and reassess it in the context of the empirical state of the art. Ruse’s argument depends on the phenomenological presumption that people generally experience morality as objective. We demonstrate how recent experimental findings challenge this widely-shared armchair presumption and conclude that Ruse’s argument fails. We situate this finding in the recent debate about Carnapian explication and argue (...)
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  • Climate Change Inaction and Moral Nihilism.Thomas Pölzler - 2015 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 18 (2):202-214.
    The effects of anthropogenic climate change may be devastating. Nevertheless, most people do not seem to be seriously concerned. We consume as much as we always did, drive as much as we always did, eat as much meat as we always did. What can we do to overcome this collective apathy? In order to be able to develop effective measures, we must first get clear about the causes of climate change inaction. In this paper I ask whether moral nihilism is (...)
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  • The Relativistic Car: Applying Metaethics to the Debate About Self-Driving Vehicles.Thomas Pölzler - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (3):833-850.
    Almost all participants in the debate about the ethics of accidents with self-driving cars have so far assumed moral universalism. However, universalism may be philosophically more controversial than is commonly thought, and may lead to undesirable results in terms of non-moral consequences and feasibility. There thus seems to be a need to also start considering what I refer to as the “relativistic car” — a car that is programmed under the assumption that what is morally right, wrong, good, bad, etc. (...)
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  • Revisiting Folk Moral Realism.Thomas Pölzler - 2017 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 8 (2):455-476.
    Moral realists believe that there are objective moral truths. According to one of the most prominent arguments in favour of this view, ordinary people experience morality as realist-seeming, and we have therefore prima facie reason to believe that realism is true. Some proponents of this argument have claimed that the hypothesis that ordinary people experience morality as realist-seeming is supported by psychological research on folk metaethics. While most recent research has been thought to contradict this claim, four prominent earlier studies (...)
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  • How to Measure Moral Realism.Thomas Pölzler - 2018 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 9 (3):647-670.
    In recent years an increasing number of psychologists have begun to explore the prevalence, causes and effects of ordinary people’s intuitions about moral realism. Many of these studies have lacked in construct validity, i.e., they have failed to measure moral realism. My aim in this paper accordingly is to motivate and guide methodological improvements. In analysis of prominent existing measures, I develop general recommendations for overcoming ten prima facie serious worries about research on folk moral realism. G1 and G2 require (...)
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  • No need to get up from the armchair.Dan Baras - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (3):575-590.
    Several authors believe that metaethicists ought to leave their comfortable armchairs and engage with serious empirical research. This paper provides partial support for the opposing view, that metaethics is rightly conducted from the armchair. It does so by focusing on debunking arguments against robust moral realism. Specifically, the article discusses arguments based on the possibility that if robust realism is correct, then our beliefs are most likely insensitive to the relevant truths. These arguments seem at first glance to be dependent (...)
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  • Evolutionary Debunking Arguments Meet Evolutionary Science.Arnon Levy & Yair Levy - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (3):491-509.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments appeal to selective etiologies of human morality in an attempt to undermine moral realism. But is morality actually the product of evolution by natural selection? Although debunking arguments have attracted considerable attention in recent years, little of it has been devoted to whether the underlying evolutionary assumptions are credible. In this paper, we take a closer look at the evolutionary hypotheses put forward by two leading debunkers, namely Sharon Street and Richard Joyce. We raise a battery of (...)
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  • Further Problems with Projectivism.Thomas Pölzler - 2016 - South African Journal of Philosophy 35 (1):92-102.
    From David Hume onwards, many philosophers have argued that moral thinking is characterized by a tendency to “project” our own mental states onto the world. This metaphor of projection may be understood as involving two empirical claims: the claim that humans experience morality as a realm of objective facts (the experiential hypothesis), and the claim that this moral experience is immediately caused by affective attitudes (the causal hypothesis). Elsewhere I argued in detail against one form of the experiential hypothesis. My (...)
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  • Wie Schlüssig Ist Albert Camus’ Frühe „Logik des Absurden“?Thomas Pölzler - 2016 - Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Philosophie 41 (1):59-76.
    Im Roman „Der Fremde“, dem Drama „Caligula“ und insbesondere dem Essay „Der Mythos des Sisyphos“ entwickelt Albert Camus eine erste Fassung einer „Logik des Absurden“. Die menschliche Existenz sei geprägt durch ein Spannungsverhältnis zwischen unserem Streben nach Sinn und einer dieses Streben fortwährend enttäuschenden Welt. Auf die Erkenntnis dieser Tatsache darf man Camus zufolge weder mit Selbstmord noch mit dem Aufgeben des Strebens nach Sinn reagieren. Vielmehr fordert er eine Haltung der beständigen Auflehnung. In meinem Artikel gehe ich der Frage (...)
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