Advertisement

Philosophical Studies

, Volume 175, Issue 11, pp 2763–2789 | Cite as

Epistemological motivations for anti-realism

  • Billy DunawayEmail author
Article
  • 320 Downloads

Abstract

Anti-realism is often claimed to be preferable to realism on epistemological grounds: while realists have difficulty explaining how we can ever know claims if we are realists about it, anti-realism faces no analogous problem. This paper focuses on anti-realism about normativity to investigate this alleged advantage to anti-realism in detail. I set up a framework in which a version of anti-realism explains a type of modal reliability that appears to be epistemologically promising, and plausibly explains the appearance of an epistemological advantage to realism. But, I argue, this appearance is illusory, and on closer investigation the anti-realist view does not succeed in explaining the presence of familiar epistemological properties for normative belief like knowledge or the absence of defeat. My conclusion on the basis of this framework is that there is a tension in the anti-realist view between the urge to idealize the conditions in which normative beliefs ground normative facts, and a robust kind of reliability that normative belief can have if the anti-realist resists these idealizations.

Keywords

Realism Anti-realism Knowledge Risk Constructivism Normativity 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Thanks to an anonymous referee, as well as audiences at the University of Oxford Moral Philosophy seminar, University of Sydney, Australian National University, the St. Louis Ethics Workshop, the Higher Seminar in Theoretical Philosophy at Uppsala University, Saint Louis University, and the London Institute of Philosophy Language, Epistemology, and Metaphysics Seminar for helpful discussion of previous versions of this paper.

References

  1. Berker, S. (2014). Does evolutionary psychology show that normativity is mind-dependent? In J. D’Arms & D. Jacobson (Eds.), Moral psychology and human agency: Philosophical essays on the science of ethics (pp. 215–252). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chrisman, M. (2010). Constructivism, expressivism, and ethical knowledge. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 18, 331–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Clarke-Doane, J. (2012). Morality and mathematics: The evolutionary challenge. Ethics, 112(2), 313–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clarke-Doane, J. (2016). Debunking and dispensability. In N. Sinclair, & U. Leibowitz (Eds.). Explanation in ethics and mathematics. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Dunaway, B. (2016). Luck: Evolutionary and epistemic. Episteme. doi: 10.1017/epi.2016.13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dunaway, B., & Hawthorne, J. (2017). Scepticism. In W. J. Abraham & F. D. Aquino (Eds.), Oxford handbook of the epistemology of theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Enoch, D. (2010). The epistemological challenge to metanormative realism. Philosophical Studies, 148(3), 413–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gettier, E. L. (1963). Is justified true belief knowledge? Analysis, 23(6), 121–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Harman, G. (1986). Moral explanations of natural facts—Can moral claims be tested against moral reality? Southern Journal of Philosophy, 24, 57–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hawthorne, J. (2004). Knowledge and lotteries. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Lasonen-Aarnio, M. (2010). Unreasonable knowledge. Philosophical Perspectives, 24, 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Mackie, J. L. (1977). Ethics: Inventing right and wrong. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  13. Manley, D. (2007). Safety, content, apriority, self-knowledge. Journal of Philosophy, 104, 403–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Pritchard, D. (2004). Epistemic luck. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Railton, P. (1986). Moral realism. The Philosophical Review, 95(2), 163–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Rosen, G. (2010). Metaphysical dependence: Grounding and reduction. In B. Hale & A. Hoffman (Eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, logic, and epistemology (pp. 109–36). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Russell, B. (1912). The problems of philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Salmon, N. (1986). Frege’s puzzle. Atascadero: Ridgeview.Google Scholar
  19. Schafer, K. (2014). Constructivism and three forms of perspective-dependence in metaethics. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 89(1), 68–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Schafer, K. Evolutionary debunking arguments, explanatory structure, and anti-realism. In R. Debes, & K. Stueber (Eds.). Taking sentimentalism seriously (pp 66–85). Cambridge University Press (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  21. Schaffer, J. (2015). Metaphysical semantics meets multiple realizability. Analysis, 73(5), 736–751.Google Scholar
  22. Schroeder, M. (2007). Slaves of the passions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Setiya, K. (2012). Knowing right from wrong. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Southwood, N. Constructivism about reasons. In D. Star (Ed.). Oxford handbook of reasons and normativity. Oxford University Press (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  25. Street, S. (2006). A Darwinian dilemma for realist theories of value. Philosophical Studies, 127(1), 109–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Street, S. (2008). Constructivism about reasons. In R. Shafer-Landau (Ed.), Oxford studies in metaethics (Vol. 3). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Street, S. (2010). What is constructivism in ethics and metaethics? Philosophy Compass, 5(5), 363–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tropman, E. (2014). Evolutionay debunking arguments: Moral realism, constructivism, and explaining moral knowledge. Philosophical Explorations, 17(2), 126–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Unger, P. (1968). An analysis of factual knowledge. Journal of Philosophy, 65, 157–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Williamson, T. (2000). Knowledge and its limits. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Williamson, T. (2007). The philosophy of philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Missouri–St LouisSt. LouisUSA

Personalised recommendations