Acta Analytica

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 285–298

A Deflationary Metaphysics of Morality



The metaphysical dispute between moral realists and antirealists is cast in terms of properties: the realist holds that moral properties exist, the antirealist denies this claim. There is a longstanding philosophical dispute over the nature of properties, and the obscurity of properties may make the realist/antirealist dispute even more obscure. In the spirit of deflationary theories of truth, we can turn to a deflationary theory of properties in order to clarify this issue. One might reasonably worry that such an account of properties would not be capable of properly characterizing disputes regarding the existence or nonexistence of genuine moral properties. In this paper, I will show that, within this framework, the traditional disputes over the existence of moral properties can be characterized in a far clearer fashion than is usually the case. A deflationary account of properties, along with an explanatory hierarchy of properties, makes the dispute in ontology clear.


Ontology Metaethics Properties Deflationism Realism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oakland UniversityPhilosophyRochesterUSA

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