Non-naturalistic moral explanation

Synthese 198 (5):4273-4294 (2019)
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It has seemed, to many, that there is an important connection between the ways in which some theoretical posits explain our observations, and our reasons for being ontologically committed to those posits. One way to spell out this connection is in terms of what has become known as the explanatory criterion of ontological commitment. This is, roughly, the view that we ought to posit only those entities that are indispensable to our best explanations. Our primary aim is to argue that the moral nonnaturalist places herself in an invidious position if she simply accepts that the nonnatural moral facts that she posits are not explanatory. Instead, we offer the nonnaturalist an alternative strategy for dealing with moral explanations. The strategy is to retain the explanatory criterion of ontological commitment and maintain that moral properties are, in fact, explanatory. The explanations they provide are not causal explanations; instead, moral properties make a non-causal difference to the physical facts.

Author Profiles

Sam Baron
University of Melbourne
Kristie Miller
University of Sydney
Mark Colyvan
University of Sydney
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