Ethical Emergentism and Moral Causation

Journal of Moral Philosophy 18 (4):331-362 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


This paper focuses on a recently articulated, emergentist conception of ethical naturalism and its commitment to causal efficacy, or the idea that moral properties have causal powers, along with its supporting commitment to moral causation. After I reconstruct the theory, I explain how it offers some interesting theoretical benefits to moral realists in virtue of its commitment to causal efficacy. Then, after locating some examples of moral causation in support of this commitment, I present and respond to five objections to such causation, which all threaten to undermine this support. Lastly, I consider a very serious problem that the theory faces in virtue of positing emergent moral properties as responsible for moral causation – namely, the problem of downward moral causation. I describe this problem in detail and argue that, as it stands, it does not spell doom for the theory.

Author's Profile

Ryan Stringer
Lincoln Land Community College


Added to PP

414 (#4,380)

6 months
138 (#84,875)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?