Morality in a Natural World: Selected Essays in Metaethics (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy)

Morality in a Natural World: Selected Essays in Metaethics (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy)

David Copp

Language: English

Pages: 376

ISBN: 0521863716

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The central philosophical challenge of metaethics is to account for the normativity of moral judgment without abandoning or seriously compromising moral realism. In Morality in a Natural World, David Copp defends a version of naturalistic moral realism that can accommodate the normativity of morality. Moral naturalism is often thought to face special metaphysical, epistemological, and semantic problems as well as the difficulty in accounting for normativity. In the ten essays included in this volume, Copp defends solutions to these problems. Three of the essays are new, while seven have previously been published. All of them are concerned with the viability of naturalistic and realistic accounts of the nature of morality, or, more generally, with the viability of naturalistic accounts of reasons.

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lack appropriate motivation. I once presented the following putative counter-example to judgment internalism, the case of Alice:7 Alice was raised to believe . . . that our moral obligations are determined by the commands of God. She was also raised to believe that God is a vengeful ruler and that He wills us to take an eye for an eye. On the principle of an eye for an eye, Alice believes that capital punishment is obligatory in cases of murder, and she believes she has an obligation to support

by reference to the length of S, which is a certain metal bar in Paris, and he then asks us to consider the proposition that S is one meter long. Kripke remarks that this proposition is contingent, since although S actually is one meter long, it could have been a different length. Moreover, Kripke suggests, the proposition is synthetic.33 Yet, he claims, someone who has used S to fix the reference of “meter” knows a priori that S is one meter long, for she knows this “automatically, without

proposition. All of this is, however, conjectural. My central objection to Jackson and Pettit’s moral functionalism is that it appears to leave no room for the idea that mature folk morality – the moral theory on which we would converge in the long run, given appropriate reflection and full nonmoral information – might be mistaken. A different problem is that people’s moral views might not converge even in the long run, and even given appropriate reflection and full nonmoral information.55

properties and that moral predicates refer to moral properties. It would also allow her to agree both that basic moral propositions are true when the relevant things have the relevant properties and that some basic moral propositions are true. However, an antirealist-expressivist would deny that the moral properties referred to by the so-called thin moral predicates, such as “wrong” and “good,” are robust. That is, she would deny that moral properties have the same metaphysical status as ordinary

of mind, such as ‘prescribing,’ ‘commending,’ or ‘expressing acceptance of a norm.’ On such an account, a person who says that something is “wrong” does not primarily assert that the action in question has the property wrongness; instead, she expresses disapproval of the action, or some other attitude toward it. Hence, according to antirealist-expressivism, the semantics of these moral predicates is quite unlike the semantics of nonmoral descriptive predicates. To be sure, there are ‘thick’ moral

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