Philosophical Studies

, Volume 145, Issue 2, pp 215–234 | Cite as

Indeterminacy and variability in meta-ethics

Article

Abstract

In the mid-20th century, descriptive meta-ethics addressed a number of central questions, such as whether there is a necessary connection between moral judgment and motivation, whether moral reasons are absolute or relative, and whether moral judgments express attitudes or describe states of affairs. I maintain that much of this work in mid-20th century meta-ethics proceeded on an assumption that there is good reason to question. The assumption was that our ordinary discourse is uniform and determinate enough to vindicate one side or the other of these meta-ethical debates. I suggest that ordinary moral discourse may be much less uniform and determinate than 20th century meta-ethics assumed.

Keywords

Meta-ethics Internalism Externalism Michael Smith R.M. Hare David Brink 

References

  1. Brink, D. O. (1989). Moral realism and the foundations of ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Cokely, E., & Feltz, A. (forthcoming). The diversity of folk and folk judgments.Google Scholar
  3. Doris, J., & Stich, S. (2005). As a matter of fact: Empirical perspectives of ethics. In F. Jackson & M. Smith (Eds.), The oxford handbook of contemporary philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Gill, M. B. (1999). Relativism and the concept of morality. The Journal of Value Inquiry, 33, 171–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gill, M. B. (2008). Metaethical variability, incoherence, and error. In W. Sinnott-Armstrong (Ed.), Moral psychology: The cognitive science of morality (Vol. 2, pp. 387–401). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  6. Goodwin, G., & Darley, J. (2008). The psychology of meta-ethics: Exploring objectivism. Cognition, 106, 1339–1366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hare, R. M. (1964). The language of morals. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Horgan, T., & Timmons, M. (2002). Conceptual relativity and metaphysical realism. Philosophical Issues, 12, 219–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Knobe, J. (2003). Intentional action in folk psychology: An experimental investigation. Philosophical Psychology, 16, 309–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lewis, D. (1999). Reduction of mind. In Papers in metaphysics and epistemology (pp. 291–324). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Lewis, D. (2000). Dispositional theories of value. In Papers in ethics and social philosophy (pp. 68–94). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Loeb, D. (2008). Moral incoherentism: How to pull a metaphysical rabbit out of a semantic hat. In W. Sinnott-Armstrong (Ed.), Moral psychology: The cognitive science of morality (Vol. 2, pp. 355–385). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Mackie, J. L. (1977). Ethics: Inventing right and wrong. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  14. Nichols, S. (2004). Sentimental rules: On the natural foundations of moral judgment. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Nichols, S., & Ulatowski, J. (2007). Intuitions and individual differences: The Knobe effect revisited. Mind and Language, 22, 346–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Putnam, H. (1988). Representation and reality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  17. Rawls, J. (1999). A theory of justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (Forthcoming). Mixed-up meta-ethics.Google Scholar
  19. Smith, M. (1994). The moral problem. Oxford UK: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  20. Stich, S., & Weinberg, J. M. (2002). Jackson’s empirical assumptions. Phenomenology and Philosophical Research, 62, 637–643.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

Personalised recommendations