Guided by Guided by the Truth: Objectivism and Perspectivism in Ethics and Epistemology

In Baron Reed & A. K. Flowerree (eds.), Towards an Expansive Epistemology: Norms, Action, and the Social Sphere. Routledge (forthcoming)
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According to ethical objectivism, what a person should do depends on the facts, as opposed to their perspective on the facts. A long-standing challenge to this view is that it fails to accommodate the role that norms play in guiding a person’s action. Roughly, if the facts that determine what a person should do lie beyond their ken, they cannot inform a person’s deliberations. This paper explores two recent developments of this line of thought. Both focus on the epistemic counterpart to ethical objectivism, according to which what a person should believe depends on the facts, as opposed to their perspective on the facts. The suggestion in each case is that epistemic objectivism faces a distinctive problem in accommodating guidance. Insofar as objectivism concerning the epistemic domain stands or falls with objectivism concerning the ethical domain, this is a problem for objectivism more generally. In this paper, I show that those arguments are not successful. The upshot is that the objectivist – whether ethical or epistemic – need not reject the idea that norms serve a guiding function.

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Daniel Whiting
University of Southampton


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