Schopenhauer and Non-Cognitivist Moral Realism

Journal of the History of Philosophy 55 (2):293-316 (2017)
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I argue that Schopenhauer’s views on the foundations of morality challenge the widely-held belief that moral realism requires cognitivism about moral judgments. Schopenhauer’s core metaethical view consists of two claims: that moral worth is attributed to actions based in compassion, and that compassion, in contrast to egoism, arises from deep metaphysical insight into the non-distinctness of beings. These claims, I argue, are sufficient for moral realism, but are compatible with either cognitivism or non-cognitivism. While Schopenhauer’s views of moral judgment are not obviously consistent, I show how various passages suggest a form of non-cognitivism. This non-cognitivism, I claim, is compatible with moral realism.

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Colin Marshall
University of Washington


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