Folk Platitudes as the Explananda of Philosophical Metaethics: Are They Accurate? And Do They Help or Hinder Inquiry?

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The field of metaethics, the branch of moral philosophy that examines the nature and status of morality, is rich in theoretical diversity. Nonetheless, a majority of professional philosophers embrace a subset of theories that affirm the existence of objective moral facts. I suggest that this may be related to the very method that philosophers use to construct metaethical theories. This method involves analyzing how ordinary people think and argue about morality. Analysis of ordinary moral discourse is meant to reveal common platitudes (or truisms) about the nature of morality itself, including the platitude that morality trades in objective moral facts. But do philosophers investigate ordinary moral discourse in any systematic way? How do they arrive at such platitudes? On what grounds are they jusified? In this paper, I critically examine these questions, and argue that a) any such platitudes need to be investigated systematically through empirical research, and b) philosophers ought to be engaged in this research themselves.
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Archival date: 2019-03-03
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