Moral Disagreement and Arational Convergence

The Journal of Ethics 23 (2):145-161 (2019)
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Smith has argued that moral realism need not be threatened by apparent moral disagreement. One reason he gives is that moral debate has tended to elicit convergence in moral views. From here, he argues inductively that current disagreements will likely be resolved on the condition that each party is rational and fully informed. The best explanation for this phenomenon, Smith argues, is that there are mind-independent moral facts that humans are capable of knowing. In this paper, I seek to challenge this argument—and more recent versions of it—by arguing that historical convergence in moral views may occur for various arational reasons. If such reasons possibly result in convergence—which Smith effectively concedes—then the moral realist would require an additional a posteriori argument to establish that convergence in moral views occurred for the right reasons. Hence, Smith-style arguments, as they stand, cannot be mobilised in support of moral realism. Rather, this investigation demonstrates the necessity of a genuine history of morality for any convergence claim in support of a meta-ethical view.
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