The Objectivity of Ordinary Life

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (4):709-721 (2017)
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Metaethics tends to take for granted a bare Democritean world of atoms and the void, and then worry about how the human world that we all know can possibly be related to it or justified in its terms. I draw on Wittgenstein to show how completely upside-down this picture is, and make some moves towards turning it the right way up again. There may be a use for something like the bare-Democritean model in some of the sciences, but the picture has no standing as the basic objective truth about the world; if anything has that standing, it is ordinary life. I conclude with some thoughts about how the notion of bare, “thin” perception of non-evaluative reality feeds a number of philosophical pathologies, such as behaviourism, and show how a “thicker”, more value-laden, understanding of our perceptions of the world can be therapeutic against them.
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