Moral Relativism, Metalinguistic Negotiation, and the Epistemic Significance of Disagreement

Erkenntnis 1:1-21 (2021)
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Although moral relativists often appeal to cases of apparent moral disagreement between members of different communities to motivate their view, accounting for these exchanges as evincing genuine disagreements constitutes a challenge to the coherence of moral relativism. While many moral relativists acknowledge this problem, attempts to solve it so far have been wanting. In response, moral relativists either give up the claim that there can be moral disagreement between members of different communities or end up with a view on which these disagreements have no “epistemic significance” because they are always faultless. This paper introduces an alternative strategy: accounting for disagreement in terms of “metalinguistic negotiation”. It argues that this strategy constitutes a better solution to the challenge disagreement poses for moral relativists because it leads to a nuanced understanding of the epistemic significance of moral disagreement between members of different communities. The upshot is a novel account of disagreement for moral relativists that has consequences for how moral relativism should be understood.
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Archival date: 2021-05-27
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