Huemer’s Clarkeanism [Book Review]

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (1):197 - 204 (2008)
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mark schroeder University of Southern California 1 When Samuel Clarke gave his second Boyle lectures in 1705, he alleged in favor of his nonreductive, rationalist, intuitionist view that only ‘the extremest stupidity of mind, corruption of manners, or perverseness of spirit, can possibly make any man entertain the least doubt’ concerning it.1 Michael Huemer’s Ethical Intuitionism is offered in the same spirit, though he makes no assurances concerning the Truth and Certainty of the Christian Revelation.2 Not only are competing metaethical views false, he alleges, those who accept them do not even do so on the basis of rational arguments (240). They are driven by bias (247), cynicism (242), and scientism (244), combined with a desire to be politically correct (albeit not in a ‘simplistic way’ (245)). Moreover, the persistence of non-intuitionist metaethical views, he suggests, has a pernicious effect on our society, encouraging vice and immorality (248). According to Huemer, what is important about intuitionism (his favored position) is that the dispute between intuitionism and ‘all other views’ is that ‘[a]nti-realist theories about value undermine our moral beliefs, our moral motivation, and even our sense of the meaning of life’ (248). He contends that ‘anti-realism really boils down to the view that nothing matters’ (249), despite explicitly acknowledging that most anti-realists would deny this, and apparently forgetting that among his targets of criticism in the book were supposed to be some realist views, as well—of the reductive variety. Although he calls his view ‘intuitionism,’ Huemer makes clear early on that what he wants to defend is not an epistemological view at all, but a metaphysical one. The main divide between metaethical views, in..

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Mark Schroeder
University of Southern California


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