Moral Explanations of Moral Beliefs: Inappropriate to Demand Them?

Theoria 86 (3):293-308 (2020)
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Abstract

A familiar claim, meant as a challenge to moral knowledge, is that we can credibly accept putative moral facts just in case they explain natural facts. This paper critically addresses Elizabeth Tropman’s response to a version of that claim. Her response has interest partly because it falls within, and extends, an influential philosophical tradition – that of trying to expose (some) skeptical challenges as spurious or ill-conceived. Also, Tropman’s target is not just any version of the claim just mentioned. It is Gilbert Harman’s classic version, according to which putative moral facts must earn credibility by explaining the formation of moral beliefs. This version has wide influence, and variations of it can arise in many areas. Tropman’s response is thus well worth attention.

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John J. Tilley
Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

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