Cornell Realism, Explanation, and Natural Properties

European Journal of Philosophy 25 (2):1021-1038 (2017)
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The claim that ordinary ethical discourse is typically true and that ethical facts are typically knowable seems in tension with the claim that ordinary ethical discourse is about features of reality friendly to a scientific worldview. Cornell Realism attempts to dispel this tension by claiming that ordinary ethical discourse is, in fact, discourse about the same kinds of things that scientific discourse is about: natural properties. We offer two novel arguments in reply. First, we identify a key assumption that we find unlikely to be true. Second, we identify two features of typical natural properties that ethical properties lack. We conclude that Cornell Realism falls short of dispelling the tension between ethical conservativism and ethical naturalism.

Author Profiles

Timothy Perrine
Rutgers - New Brunswick
Luis R. G. Oliveira
University of Houston


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