Robust moral realism: an excellent religion



According to robust moral realism, there exist objective, non-natural moral facts. Moral facts of this sort do not fit easily into the world as illuminated by natural science. Further, if such facts exist at all, it is hard to see how we could know of their existence by any familiar means. Yet robust realists are not moral skeptics; they believe that we do know (some of) the moral facts. Thus robust moral realism comes with a number of hard-to-defend ontological and epistemological commitments. Recently, Sharon Street has claimed, in light of these commitments, that robust moral realism requires a kind of faith and “has become a strange form of religion.” I believe that Street is right. I argue at some length that robust moral realism does require faith, and is a religion. However, I further argue that it is an excellent religion. I argue that it has three principal advantages: it is avoids wishful thinking, is guaranteed not to contradict the results of natural science, and is profoundly simple in its ontological commitments. Further, robust moral realism may be rationally defensible on evidentialist grounds. Consequently, even if the standard arguments for traditional religions are not compelling, there might still be compelling arguments for robust moral realism.


Ethics Moral realism Faith Atheism Phenomenal conservatism Evidentialism 



Thanks to Ben McCraw, Caleb Ontiveros, Calum Miller, Casey Woodling, Cliff Sosis, Dan Hausman, Daniel Crow, Derrick Murphy, Dylan Cordaro, Emily Crookston, John Basl, Jonathan Lang, Justin Weinberg, Justin Horn, Kate Myrna, Matthew Kopec, Molly Gardner, Nick McKinney, Nils Rauhut, Preston McKever-Floyd , Rob Streiffer, Robert Audi, Russ Shafer-Landau, Shannon Kelly, Stew Eskew, Syd Nichols, Tom Carson, Yishai Cohen an anonymous reviewer for this journal, and audiences at the South Carolina Society for Philosophy, the Philosophers’ Cocoon Annual Conference, and the Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress for valuable discussion and feedback.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Coastal Carolina UniversityConwayUSA

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