Non-Naturalist Moral Realism and the Limits of Rational Reflection

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (4):724-737 (2018)
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This essay develops the epistemic challenge to non-naturalist moral realism. While evolutionary considerations do not support the strongest claims made by ‘debunkers’, they do provide the basis for an inductive argument that our moral dispositions and starting beliefs are at best partially reliable. So, we need some method for separating truth from falsity. Many non-naturalists think that rational reflection can play this role. But rational reflection cannot be expected to bring us to truth even from reasonably accurate starting points. Reflection selects views that are coherent and conflict-free, yet there is no reason to think that the non-natural moral truth must be like this. Inasmuch as we seek coherent, conflict-free, ethical viewpoints, that suggests that our goal is not non-natural truth at all.

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Max Khan Hayward
University of Sheffield


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