Morality and Mathematics

Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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In this book, I explore similarities and differences between morality and mathematics, realistically conceived. I argue that our mathematical beliefs have no better claim to being self-evident or provable than our moral beliefs. Nor do our mathematical beliefs have better claim to being empirically justified than our moral beliefs. It is also incorrect that reflection on the “genealogy” of our moral beliefs establishes a lack of parity between the cases. In general, if one is a moral antirealist on the basis of epistemological considerations, then one ought to be a mathematical antirealist as well. And, yet, moral realism and mathematical realism do not stand or fall together -- and for a surprising reason. Moral questions, insofar as they are practical, are objective in a sense that mathematical questions are not, and the sense in which they are objective can only be explained by assuming moral anti-realism. It follows that the concepts of realism and objectivity, which are widely identified, are actually in tension. I conclude that the objective questions in the neighborhood of questions of logic, modality, grounding, nature, and more are practical questions as well. Practical philosophy should, therefore, take center stage.
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Evolution and Moral Realism.Sterelny, Kim & Fraser, Ben

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