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Moral realism

Philosophical Review 95 (2):163-207 (1986)

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  1. Misinformation, Subjectivism, and the Rational Criticizability of Desire.Jay Jian - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (3):845-866.
    Orthodox Humeans about normative reasons for action believe that there are no rational principles governing the substantive content of desire. But they also believe that desires with misinformed content should be rejected and cannot be the proper subjective sources of normative reasons for action. These two ideas, I argue, in fact stand in tension with each other: The Humean rejection of misinformed desire actually has to invoke a feasibility principle for desire, a semi-substantive rational principle that is already built into (...)
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  • Does Particularism Solve the Moral Problem?1.Kasper Lippert–Rasmussen - 2002 - Philosophical Explorations 5 (2):125-140.
    Moral cognitivism, internalism about moral judgements, and Humeanism about motivating reasons all possess attractions.Yet they cannot all be true.This is the so–called moral problem. Dancy offers an interesting particularist response to the moral problem. However, we argue that this response, first, provides an inadequate basis for the distinction between motivating states and states necessary for motivation although not themselves motivators; second, draws no support from considerations about weakness of the will; and third, involves an implausible account of desire.We conclude that (...)
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  • Neo-Aristotelian Naturalism and the Indeterminacy Objection.Scott Woodcock - 2015 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 23 (1):20-41.
    Philippa Foot’s virtue ethics remains an intriguing but divisive position in normative ethics. For some, the promise of grounding human virtue in natural facts is a useful method of establishing normative content. For others, the natural facts on which the virtues are established appear naively uninformed when it comes to the empirical details of our species. In response to this criticism, a new cohort of neo-Aristotelians like John Hacker-Wright attempt to defend Foot by reminding critics that the facts at stake (...)
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  • Moral Cognitivism and Motivation.Sigrun Svavarsdottir - 1999 - Philosophical Review 108 (2):161-219.
    The impact moral judgments have on our deliberations and actions seems to vary a great deal. Moral judgments play a large part in the lives of some people, who are apt not only to make them, but also to be guided by them in the sense that they tend to pursue what they judge to be of moral value, and shun what they judge to be of moral disvalue. But it seems unrealistic to claim that moral judgments play a pervasive (...)
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  • Naturalizing Ethics.Owen Flanagan, Hagop Sarkissian & David Wong - 2016 - In Kelly James Clark (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Naturalism. London, UK: pp. 16-33.
    In this essay we provide (1) an argument for why ethics should be naturalized, (2) an analysis of why it is not yet naturalized, (3) a defense of ethical naturalism against two fallacies—Hume’s and Moore’s—that ethical naturalism allegedly commits, and (4) a proposal that normative ethics is best conceived as part of human ecology committed to pluralistic relativism. We explain why naturalizing ethics both entails relativism and also constrains it, and why nihilism about value is not an especially worrisome for (...)
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  • The Nature and Explanatory Ambitions of Metaethics.Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett - 2017 - In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. Routledge. pp. 1-28.
    This volume introduces a wide range of important views, questions, and controversies in and about contemporary metaethics. It is natural to ask: What, if anything, connects this extraordinary range of discussions? This introductory chapter aims to answer this question by giving an account of metaethics that shows it to be a unified theoretical activ- ity. According to this account, metaethics is a theoretical activity characterized by an explanatory goal. This goal is to explain how actual ethical thought and talk—and what (...)
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  • Naturalistic Moral Realism, Moral Rationalism, and Non-Fundamental Epistemology.Tristram McPherson - 2018 - In Karen Jones & Francois Schroeter (eds.), The Many Moral Rationalisms. Oxford University Press. pp. 187-209.
    This paper takes up an important epistemological challenge to the naturalistic moral realist: that her metaphysical commitments are difficult to square with a plausible rationalist view about the epistemology of morality. The paper begins by clarifying and generalizing this challenge. It then illustrates how the generalized challenge can be answered by a form of naturalistic moral realism that I dub joint-carving moral realism. Both my framing of this challenge and my answer advertise the methodological significance of non-fundamental epistemological theorizing, which (...)
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  • Beyond Objectivism: New Methods for Studying Metaethical Intuitions.Taylor Davis - 2021 - Philosophical Psychology 34 (1):125-153.
    Moral realists often assume that folk intuitions are predominantly realist, and they argue that this places the burden of proof on antirealists. More broadly, appeals to intuition in metaethics typically assume that folk judgments are generally consistent across individuals, such that they are at least predominantly something, if not realist. A substantial body of empirical work on moral objectivism has investigated these assumptions, but findings remain inconclusive due to methodological limitations. Objectivist judgments classify individuals into broad categories of realism and (...)
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  • Value, Transcendence and Analogy.Gabriele De Anna - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 10 (2):105-129.
    Current naturalistic accounts of value face the problem of explaining the normative constraints that value impose on agents. Attempts to solve this problem have progressively relaxed the strictness of naturalistic requirements, up to the point of seeking theistic solutions. However, appeals to God are also problematic, since it is questionable that a relevant notion of God is conceivable at all: if God is wholly other He cannot matter for our choices and if He is a being among natural beings He (...)
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  • On Why Hume's “General Point of View” Isn't Ideal–and Shouldn't Be.Geoffrey Sayre-McCord - 1994 - Social Philosophy and Policy 11 (1):202-228.
    It is tempting and not at all uncommon to find the striking—even noble—visage of an Ideal Observer staring out from the center of Hume's moral theory. When Hume claims, for instance, that virtue is “ whatever mental action or quality gives to a spectator the pleasing sentiment of approbation ,” it is only natural to think that he must have in mind not just any spectator but a spectator who is fully informed and unsullied by prejudice. And when Hume writes (...)
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  • Folk Psychology is Not a Predictive Device.Adam Morton - 1996 - Mind 105 (417):119-37.
    I argue that folk psychology does not serve the purpose of facilitating prediction of others' behaviour but if facilitating cooperative action. (See my subsequent book *The Importance of Being Understood*.
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  • Moral Facts as Configuring Causes.Terence Cuneo - 2006 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (2):141–162.
    The overarching aim of this essay is to argue that moral realists should be "causalists" or claim that moral facts of certain kinds are causally efficacious. To this end, I engage in two tasks. The first is to develop an account of the sense in which moral facts of certain kinds are causally efficacious. After having sketched the concept of what I call a "configuring" cause, I contend that the exercise of the moral virtues is plausibly viewed as a configuring (...)
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  • The Moral Closure Argument.Matt Lutz - 2021 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 19 (1).
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  • Historical Materialism and Supervenience.Colin Farrelly - 2005 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 35 (4):420-446.
    In this article I put forth a new interpretation of historical materialism titled the supervenient interpretation . Drawing on the insights of analytical Marxism and utilizing the concept of supervenience, I advance two central claims. First, that Marx's synchronic materialism maintains that the superstructure supervenes naturally on the economic structure. Second, that diachronic materialism maintains that the relations of production supervene naturally on the forces of production. Taken together, these two theses help bring to the fore the central tenets of (...)
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  • On Keeping Things in Proportion.Adam Lovett & Stefan Riedener - 2019 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 16 (3).
    Formula One isn’t very important. You can't care about it too much. The refugee crisis is more important. You can care about it much more. In this paper we investigate how important something is. By ‘importance’ we mean how much it is fitting to care about a thing. We explore a view about this which we call Proportionalism. This view says that a thing’s importance depends on that thing’s share of the world’s total value. The more of what matters there (...)
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  • Reflective Equilibrium and Antitheory.Francois Schroeter - 2004 - Noûs 38 (1):110–134.
    The paper clarifies what is at stake in the theory/antitheory debate in ethics and articulates the distinctive core of the method of reflective equilibrium which distinguishes it from a generic coherence constraint. I call this distinctive core 'maieutic reflection'. The paper then argues that if she accepts constructivist views in metaethics, a proponent of the method of reflective equilibrium will be committed to the existence of a moral theory.
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  • Folk Moral Relativism.Hagop Sarkissian, John Park, David Tien, Jennifer Cole Wright & Joshua Knobe - 2011 - Mind and Language 26 (4):482-505.
    It has often been suggested that people's ordinary understanding of morality involves a belief in objective moral truths and a rejection of moral relativism. The results of six studies call this claim into question. Participants did offer apparently objectivist moral intuitions when considering individuals from their own culture, but they offered increasingly relativist intuitions considering individuals from increasingly different cultures or ways of life. The authors hypothesize that people do not have a fixed commitment to moral objectivism but instead tend (...)
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  • Deliberators Must Be Imperfect.Derek Baker - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (2):321-347.
    This paper argues that, with certain provisos, predicting one's future actions is incompatible with rationally deliberating about whether to perform those actions. It follows that fully rational omniscient agents are impossible, since an omniscient being could never rationally deliberate about what to do. Consequently, theories that explain practical reasons in terms of the choices of a perfectly rational omniscient agent must fail. The paper considers several ways of defending the possibility of an omniscient agent, and concludes that while some of (...)
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  • Years of Moral Epistemology: A Bibliography.Laura Donohue & Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - 1991 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 29 (S1):217-229.
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  • Causally Inefficacious Moral Properties.David Slutsky - 2001 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 39 (4):595-610.
    In this paper, I motivate skepticism about the causal efficacy of moral properties in two ways. First, I highlight a tension that arises between two claims that moral realists may want to accept. The first claim is that physically indistinguishable things do not differ in any causally efficacious respect. The second claim is that physically indistinguishable things that differ in certain historical respects have different moral properties. The tension arises to the extent to which these different moral properties are supposed (...)
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  • Naturalism and the Problem of Moral Knowledge.Michael Huemer - 2000 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 38 (4):575-597.
    Ethical naturalists interpret moral knowledge as analogous to scientific knowledge and not dependent on intuition. For their account to succeed, moral truths must explain observable phenomena, and these explanations (i) must be better than any explanations framed in non-moral terms, (ii) must not rely on ad hoc posits about the causal powers of moral properties, and (iii) must not presuppose the existence of an independent means of awareness of moral truths. No moral explanations satisfy these criteria.
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  • Empiricism in Science and Ethics.Stefan Sencerz - 1993 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 31 (4):449-470.
    We elucidate the conditions under which any hypothesis is explanatorily relevant by analyzing several tests of explanatory relevance and explanations based on those tests. A new causal criterion of explanatory relevance is developed and defended. We show how the causal criterion succeeds in establishing, at the very least, a very strong presumption against moral facts.
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  • The Supervenience Argument Against Moral Realism.James Dreier - 1992 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):13-38.
    In 1971, Simon Blackburn worked out an argument against moral realism appealing to the supervenience of the moral realm on the natural realm.1 He has since revised the argument, in part to take account of objections,2 but the basic structure remains intact. While commentators3 seem to agree that the argument is not successful, they have not agreed upon what goes wrong. I believe this is because no attempt has been made to see what happens when Blackburn's argument is addressed to (...)
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  • Reason and Self-Interest.Judith M. Hill - 1988 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 26 (2):193-205.
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  • Reason and Self-Interest.Judith M. Hill - 1988 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 26 (2):193-205.
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  • Moral Realism and Arbitrariness.Jason Kawall - 2005 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 43 (1):109-129.
    In this paper I argue (i) that choosing to abide by realist moral norms would be as arbitrary as choosing to abide by the mere preferences of a God (a difficulty akin to the Euthyphro dilemma raised for divine command theorists); in both cases we would lack reason to prefer these standards to alternative codes of conduct. I further develop this general line of thought by arguing in particular (ii) that we would lack any noncircular justification to concern ourselves with (...)
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  • Objective Reasons.Michael Pendlebury - 2007 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 45 (4):533-563.
    In order to establish that judgments about practical reasons can be objective, it is necessary to show that the applicable standards provide an adequate account of truth and error. This in turn requires that these standards yield an extensive set of substantive, publicly accessible judgments that are presumptively true. This output requirement is not satisfied by the standards of universalizability, consistency, coherence, and caution alone. But it is satisfied if we supplement them with the principle that desire is a source (...)
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  • The Methodological Implications of Reference Magnetism on Moral Twin Earth.David Mokriski - 2020 - Metaphilosophy 51 (5):702-726.
    The Moral Twin Earth challenge to ethical naturalism threatens to undermine an otherwise promising metaethical view by showing that typical, naturalist-friendly theories of reference determination predict diverging reference in Twin Earth scenarios, making it difficult to account for substantive moral disagreement. Several theorists have recently invoked David Lewis’s doctrine of reference magnetism as a solution, claiming that a highly elite moral property—a moral “joint in nature”—could secure shared reference between ourselves and our twins on Twin Earth, despite our diverging usages (...)
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  • Moral Realism and Other Issues.Eva D. Bodanszky - 1988 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst
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  • Moral Anxiety and Moral Agency.Charlie Kurth - 2015 - Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 5:171-195.
    A familiar feature of moral life is the distinctive anxiety that we feel in the face of a moral dilemma or moral conflict. Situations like these require us to take stands on controversial issues. But because we are unsure that we will make the correct decision, anxiety ensues. Despite the pervasiveness of this phenomenon, surprisingly little work has been done either to characterize this “ moral anxiety” or to explain the role that it plays in our moral lives. This paper (...)
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  • What is (In)Coherence?Alex Worsnip - 2018 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 13:184-206.
    Recent work on rationality has been increasingly attentive to “coherence requirements”, with heated debates about both the content of such requirements and their normative status (e.g., whether there is necessarily reason to comply with them). Yet there is little to no work on the metanormative status of coherence requirements. Metaphysically: what is it for two or more mental states to be jointly incoherent, such that they are banned by a coherence requirement? In virtue of what are some putative requirements genuine (...)
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  • Non-Consequentialism Demystified.Howard Nye, David Plunkett & John Ku - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15 (4):1-28.
    Morality seems important, in the sense that there are practical reasons — at least for most of us, most of the time — to be moral. A central theoretical motivation for consequentialism is that it appears clear that there are practical reasons to promote good outcomes, but mysterious why we should care about non-consequentialist moral considerations or how they could be genuine reasons to act. In this paper we argue that this theoretical motivation is mistaken, and that because many arguments (...)
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  • A Guided Tour Of Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics.David Plunkett & Herman Cappelen - 2020 - In Herman Cappelen, David Plunkett & Alexis Burgess (eds.), Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1-26.
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  • General Solution to All Philosophical Problems With Some Exceptions.Wayde Beasley - forthcoming - north of parallel 40: Numerous uncommitted.
    Philosophy is unsolved. My forthcoming book sets forth the final resolution, with some exceptions, to this 2,500 year crisis. I am currently close to finishing page 983.
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  • What Realism Implies and What It Does Not.Richard Boyd - 1989 - Dialectica 43 (1‐2):5-29.
    SummaryThis paper addresses the question of what scientific realism implies and what it does not when it is articulated so as to provide the best defense against plausible philosophical alternatives. A summary is presented of “abductive” arguments for scientific realism, and of the epistemological and semantic conceptions upon which they depend. Taking these arguments to be the best current defense of realism, it is inquired what, in the sense just mentioned, realism implies and what it does not. It is concluded (...)
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  • Internalism’s Wheel.Michael Smith - 1995 - Ratio 8 (3):277-302.
    If an agent judges that she morally ought to PHI in certain circumstances C then, according to internalists, absent practical irrationality, she must be motivated, to some extent, to PHI in C. Internalists thus accept what I have elsewhere called the ‘practicality requirement on moral judgement’. There are many different theories about the nature and content of moral judgement that aspire to explain and capture the truth embodied in internalism, and these theories share little in common beyond that aspiration. Worse (...)
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  • A Field Guide to Recent Species of Naturalism.Alexander Rosenberg - 1996 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (1):1-29.
    This review of recent work in the philosophy of science motivated by a commitment to 'naturalism' begins by identifying three key axioms and one theorem shared by philosophers thus self-styled. Owing much to Quine and Ernest Nagel, these philosophers of science share a common agenda with naturalists elsewhere in philosophy. But they have disagreed among themselves about how the axioms and the theorems they share settle long-standing disputes in the philosophy of science. After expounding these disagreements in the work of (...)
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  • Moral Explanation.Brad Majors - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (1):1–15.
    Discussion of moral explanation has reached an impasse, with proponents of contemporary ethical naturalism upholding the explanatory integrity of moral facts and properties, and opponents--including both antirealists and non-naturalistic realists--insisting that such robustly explanatory pretensions as moral theory has be explained away. I propose that the key to solving the problem lies in the question whether instances of moral properties are causally efficacious. It is argued that, given the truth of contemporary ethical naturalism, moral properties are causally efficacious if the (...)
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  • Moral Facts and Best Explanations.Brian Leiter - 2001 - Social Philosophy and Policy 18 (2):79.
    Do moral properties figure in the best explanatory account of the world? According to a popular realist argument, if they do, then they earn their ontological rights, for only properties that figure in the best explanation of experience are real properties. Although this realist strategy has been widely influential—not just in metaethics, but also in philosophy of mind and philosophy of science—no one has actually made the case that moral realism requires: namely, that moral facts really will figure in the (...)
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  • Naturalism and Prescriptivity.Peter Railton - 1989 - Social Philosophy and Policy 7 (1):151.
    Statements about a person's good slip into and out of our ordinary discourse about the world with nary a ripple. Such statements are objects of belief and assertion, they obey the rules of logic, and they are often defended by evidence and argument. They even participate in common-sense explanations, as when we say of some person that he has been less subject to wild swings of enthusiasm and disappointment now that, with experience, he has gained a clearer idea of what (...)
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  • Philosophy of Language for Metaethics.Mark Schroeder - 2012 - In Gillian Russell & Delia Graff Fara (eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Routledge.
    Metaethics is the study of metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language, insofar as they relate to the subject matter of moral or, more broadly, normative discourse – the subject matter of what is good, bad, right or wrong, just, reasonable, rational, what we must or ought to do, or otherwise. But out of these four ‘core’ areas of philosophy, it is plausibly the philosophy of language that is most central to metaethics – and not simply (...)
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  • Moore on the Right, the Good, and Uncertainty.Michael Smith - 2006 - In Terry Horgan & Mark Timmons (eds.), Metaethics After Moore. Oxford University Press. pp. 2006--133.
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  • Realism and Objectivity.Billy Dunaway - 2017 - In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. Routledge. pp. 135-150.
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  • Realism.Alexander Miller - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Metaethics After Moore.Terry Horgan & Mark Timmons (eds.) - 2006 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Metaethics, understood as a distinct branch of ethics, is often traced to G. E. Moore's 1903 classic, Principia Ethica. Whereas normative ethics is concerned to answer first order moral questions about what is good and bad, right and wrong, metaethics is concerned to answer second order non-moral questions about the semantics, metaphysics, and epistemology of moral thought and discourse. Moore has continued to exert a powerful influence, and the sixteen essays here represent the most up-to-date work in metaethics after, and (...)
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  • Metaethics.Geoff Sayre-McCord - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • In the Thick of Moral Motivation.Wesley Buckwalter & John Turri - 2017 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 8 (2):433-453.
    We accomplish three things in this paper. First, we provide evidence that the motivational internalism/externalism debate in moral psychology could be a false dichotomy born of ambiguity. Second, we provide further evidence for a crucial distinction between two different categories of belief in folk psychology: thick belief and thin belief. Third, we demonstrate how careful attention to deep features of folk psychology can help diagnose and defuse seemingly intractable philosophical disagreement in metaethics.
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  • Biological Teleology, Reductionism, and Verbal Disputes.Sandy C. Boucher - forthcoming - Foundations of Science:1-22.
    The extensive philosophical discussions and analyses in recent decades of function-talk in biology have done much to clarify what biologists mean when they ascribe functions to traits, but the basic metaphysical question—is there genuine teleology and design in the natural world, or only the appearance of this?—has persisted, as recent work both defending, and attacking, teleology from a Darwinian perspective, attest. I argue that in the context of standard contemporary evolutionary theory, this is for the most part a verbal, rather (...)
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  • New Frontiers in Ground, Essence, and Modality: Introduction.Donnchadh O'conaill & Tuomas Tahko - 2018 - Synthese:1-12.
    Ground, essence, and modality seem to have something to do with each other. Can we provide unified foundations for ground and essence, or should we treat each as primitives? Can modality be grounded in essence, or should essence be expressed in terms of modality? Does grounding entail necessitation? Are the notions of ground and essence univocal? This volume focuses on the links—or lack thereof—between these three notions, as well as the foundations of ground, essence, and modality more generally, bringing together (...)
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  • Subjective Moral Biases & Fallacies: Developing Scientifically & Practically Adequate Moral Analogues of Cognitive Heuristics & Biases.Mark H. Herman - 2019 - Dissertation, Bowling Green State University
    In this dissertation, I construct scientifically and practically adequate moral analogs of cognitive heuristics and biases. Cognitive heuristics are reasoning “shortcuts” that are efficient but flawed. Such flaws yield systematic judgment errors—i.e., cognitive biases. For example, the availability heuristic infers an event’s probability by seeing how easy it is to recall similar events. Since dramatic events, such as airplane crashes, are disproportionately easy to recall, this heuristic explains systematic overestimations of their probability (availability bias). The research program on cognitive heuristics (...)
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