Ethics and naturalism

Prolegomena: Casopis Za Filozofiju/Journal of Philosophy 22 (2):237-256 (2023)
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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between naturalism and morality and to assess their compatibility. Naturalism is defined as respect for science, for its methods and results. From this respect for science, one can infer two distinct philosophical naturalisms: the methodological and the metaphysical. The relationship between these forms of naturalism and morality depends on the correct conception of morality. This paper differentiates between objectively realistic conception and all other conceptions and argues that while other conceptions can easily fit morality into a naturalistic worldview, objectively realistic conception faces theoretical challenges, including the challenge of explaining how moral facts and concepts play an explanatory role and the challenge of bridging the is/ought gap. The paper focuses on Railton's ethical naturalism as a prominent naturalistic theory of morality and evaluates its ability to overcome these challenges. The conclusion is that, so long as we consider a theory like Railton's, naturalism and realistically conceived morality are incompatible.

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Adam Greif
Comenius University (PhD)

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