Moral Realism and the Incompletability of Morality
- 224 Downloads
The core claim of moral realism, one of the major approaches in contemporary meta-ethics, is that moral or ethical1 statements are true or false independently of what human beings think of them. That is to say, to almost any moral or ethical question that we may ask, say, whether letting someone die under certain circumstances in order to save our own life is morally permissible, or whether having a great career is sufficient to have a good life, there is a correct answer that is “out there” awaiting discovery, and the correctness of that answer has nothing to do with what we might think about the matter. Some realists articulate this core idea by positing a distinctively moral (i.e. non-natural) “realm” consisting of “moral facts”, whereas others purport to locate the so-called objective “moral facts” in the natural world.2
Why would anyone be a realist? Well, many philosophers believe that some sort of realism is necessary to vindicate moral discourse and inquiry. We ask moral...
I am grateful to Michael Fagenblat, Shai Lavi, Sharon Street, David Velleman, the fellows at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Tel Aviv University, and an anonymous referee for the Journal of Value Inquiry for helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. This work was partially supported by the Israel Science Foundation [Grant No: 698/16].
- 1.Dworkin, R. 2011. Justice for Hedgehogs. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- 2.Enoch, D. 2011. Taking Morality Seriously. OUP.Google Scholar
- 4.Hume, D. 1975. A Treatise of Human Nature. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- 5.Landau, R. S. 2003. Moral Realism: A Defence. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- 6.Mackie, J. L. 1977. Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong. Google Scholar
- 7.Rosenzweig, F. 1999. The New Thinking. (A. U. Galli, Ed.) Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
- 8.Scanlon, T. M. 2014. Being Realistic About Reasons. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- 10.Wittgenstein, L. 1969. On Certainty. (G. E. Wright, Ed., & D. P. Anscombe, Trans.) New York: Harper Torchbooks.Google Scholar