Justification and Explanation in Mathematics and Morality

In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics: Volume 1. Oxford University Press (2015)
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Abstract
In an influential book, Gilbert Harman writes, "In explaining the observations that support a physical theory, scientists typically appeal to mathematical principles. On the other hand, one never seems to need to appeal in this way to moral principles [1977, 9 – 10]." What is the epistemological relevance of this contrast, if genuine? In this article, I argue that ethicists and philosophers of mathematics have misunderstood it. They have confused what I will call the justificatory challenge for realism about an area, D – the challenge to justify our D-beliefs – with the reliability challenge for D-realism – the challenge to explain the reliability of our D-beliefs. Harman’s contrast is relevant to the first, but not, evidently, to the second. One upshot of the discussion is that genealogical debunking arguments are fallacious. Another is that indispensability considerations cannot answer the Benacerraf-Field epistemological challenge for mathematical realism.
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First archival date: 2014-06-21
Latest version: 13 (2015-03-07)
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References found in this work BETA
Two Dogmas of Empiricism.Quine, Willard V. O.
Four Dimensionalism.Sider, Theodore

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Citations of this work BETA
How to Debunk Moral Beliefs.Kumar, Victor & May, Joshua
Modal Objectivity.Justin, Clarke-Doane
Objectivity and Reliability.Clarke-Doane, Justin

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