Review of Erik J. Wielenberg’s “Robust Ethics: The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Godless Normative Realism” [Book Review]

Ethical Perspectives 22 (3):509-513 (2015)
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Erik Wielenberg’s new book Robust Ethics: The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Godless Normative Realism aims at defending a non-theistic of ‘robust normative realism’: the metaethical view that normative properties exist, and have four features: (1) objectivity, (2) non-naturalness, (3) irreducibility, and (4) causal inertness. In my review I criticize that Wielenberg does not address semantic issues which are crucial both to defending robust normative realism, and to assessing the empirical claims he makes. Moreover, and relatedly, I suggest that Wielenberg’s main psychological and evolutionary claims may be less well-founded than suggested. Despite these worries, however, Robust Ethics is a highly valuable contribution to metaethics. Wielenberg’s writing is extremely accessible, engaging, witty, and clear, he develops various fascinating novel arguments, and skilfully links analytic reflections with the consideration of empirical data.
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