Philosophical Studies

, Volume 113, Issue 2, pp 121-152

Moral Explanation and the Special Sciences

  • B. MajorsAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Kansas

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Discussion of moral explanation has reached animpasse, with proponents of contemporaryethical naturalism upholding the explanatoryintegrity of moral facts and properties, andopponents – including both anti-realists andnon-naturalistic realists – insisting thatsuch robustly explanatory pretensions as moraltheory has be explained away. I propose thatthe key to solving the problem lies in thequestion whether instances of moral propertiesare causally efficacious. It is argued that,given the truth of contemporary ethicalnaturalism, moral properties are causallyefficacious if the properties of the specialsciences are. Certain objections are rebuttedinvolving the nature of causation, on the onehand, and putative special features of themoral realm, on the other.