Where does this leave Greene? If he wants to avail himself of the argument against antiutilitarian intuitions (AAI) to support deep pragmatism, then he must abandon claims 4 and 10 that rely on the nonexistence or inaccessibility of moral truth. Claim 4, however, is essential to Greene’s rationale of forming a metamorality in the first place (i.e., to the ANM); he builds on the absence of moral truth to make his case for the need of a metamorality. Claim 10 is also crucial to Greene’s argument, for he uses it to show (in the ASV) that shared values or a common currency are to be the foundation of metamorality. If there turns out to be accessible moral truth, then Greene’s deep pragmatism will be left vulnerable, for it is unlikely that—in the face of knowable moral truth—anyone, no matter to which tribe one belongs, would forego this moral truth for a loose (i.e., non-truth-based) set of shared values. Granted that the discovery of both knowable and indisputable moral truth is highly unlikely (it has been a long time trying), Greene’s deep pragmatism still departs precisely from the abandonment of such efforts, so that doing without the denial of moral truth is injurious to his project. More technically, without moral truth, and therefore without claims 4 and 10 and the ANM and ASV that reply upon them in turn, Greene is left without claims 22 and 24 of his argument for deep pragmatism; he loses, respectively, both the necessity for metamorality and the argument that metamorality should be based on shared values.
To illustrate this point, consider a hypothetical analogy with science. Let us say that we have certain epistemic capacities that served us well in the environment of evolutionary adaptedness and that allow us to solve the basic scientific problems of everyday life (analogous to morality as a natural solution to the ToC). These epistemic dispositions, however, were not designed for novel and complex modern scientific problems (like quantum mechanics, the origin of the universe and what it is made of, how life began, and so on). Different groups have come to harness and value different epistemic dispositions to tackle these problems, leading to various tribal sciences. There is intertribal disagreement about and conflict over these central modern problems, with different tribes favoring their own, idiosyncratic scientific explanations (analogous to the ToCM). Science is an exceedingly useful tool and imperative to the development of the human species as a whole. Intertribal conflicts over science thwart scientific progress. Consequently, we need a metascience in order to settle disagreements over these new scientific problems. The question then becomes: On what should our metascience be based? And the answer: Metascience should be based on shared values (analogous to the ASV). We all share an interest in being efficacious in the world, in realizing practical goals, and in making instrumental scientific advances. Therefore, metascience should be based on a pragmatic principle; that is, it should be founded on what works best for us. Deep pragmatism is, accordingly, the metascience that we need to adopt. The problem with this analogy is that a premise is missing. This is the claim that there is no scientific truth or, if there is, that we have no epistemic access to it. The argument for a truth-independent metascience falls apart with the availability of scientific truth. If there is scientific truth to be discovered—that is, under conditions of scientific realism—the corresponding epistemic stance would, for instance, regard “mature and predictively successful scientific theories as well-confirmed and approximately true of the world,” so that “the entities posited by them, or, at any rate, entities very similar to those posited, do inhabit the world” [27, p.xvii]. There is no reason why, under these conditions, where scientific truth can be and is discovered, one would need to go beyond the first-order activity of science by means of a second-order metascience. That the origin of the universe has not been revealed does not mean it cannot be or will not be; whether or not it actually will be depends on the course that science takes. Unless, of course, there is no scientific truth to be known.Footnote 16 Bringing things back to Greene, we maintain that the metascience analogy holds for metamorality, so that the premise of the nonexistence or indiscoverability of truth is necessary to both—whether in the case of science or morality. With the possibility of finding out the truth, and of subsequently building a theory upon its foundation, there is no good reason to substitute this pursuit for a pragmatic meta-approach. The argument fails to get off the ground.
Greene therefore cannot do without the disavowal of moral truth; to return to his series of arguments, he cannot abandon claims 4 of the ANM and 10 of the ASV. The alternative is to forego claims 6 to 8 of the AAI, which appeal to the imperfect tracking of moral truth for antiutilitarian intuitions. This option is, on the whole, less harmful to Greene’s case for deep pragmatism than resigning the other claims. Nevertheless, this removes a significant portion of his argument, because Greene wants to use the superiority of utilitarian moral judgments to deontological moral judgments as a reason to accept a metamorality based on the former. More precisely, if Greene abandons claims 6–8, he loses his argument against antiutilitarian intuitions (AAI) upon which metamorality ostensibly ought not to be based, which also means that he has to renounce claim 23 in his argument for deep pragmatism (DP). This weakens Greene’s final argument by eliminating one of its claims, and opens it up to counterarguments for basing metamorality on antiutilitarian (e.g., deontological) intuitions, which become candidates anew as soon as Greene proves unable to discard them via appeals to unreliability.
One possible way out is the following.Footnote 17 Rather than deny the existence of moral truth, Greene could simply assert the truth of deep pragmatism. If moral truth exists, and if deep pragmatism were the true moral theory, then this would meet several of the objections previously raised. It would solve the RO, for it would make the ToCM a morally bad state of affairs requiring a metamorality—deep pragmatism—to settle it. It would also solve the IO, for with the existence of moral truth, the failure of certain kinds of moral judgments to track moral truth would be unproblematic. It would not necessarily solve the HO, since there may be other theories superior to deep pragmatism for settling moral conflicts, but it would at least contribute a motivating factor to adopting deep pragmatism—that it is based on the truth. All the same, it is unlikely that Greene would be comfortable with this metaphysical move, since it would open up deep pragmatism to (many) competing claims for moral truth. Moreover, in terms of persuasion, it is unlikely that simply asserting the truth of deep pragmatism is going to win any favor from tribes.
Another potential way out is as follows. Greene is wrong to tie claims 6–8 to the unreliability of antiutilitarian intuitions, because his stance on the absence of moral truth is necessitated by his goal of devising a metamorality. What he ought to do instead is to reevaluate and reformulate antiutilitarian intuitions as undesirable rather than unreliable, so that he can argue from there that antiutilitarian intuitions should not form the basis of metamorality. To see how he could do this, it is worth looking into some of the examples that Greene offers for the supposed oversensitivity/undersensitivity of moral intuitions in order to gauge how they might be alternatively explained. First, Greene argues that our automatic settings, our moral intuitions that, according to the CTP, feed into characteristically deontological judgments, can be oversensitive. Evidence of this is that they sometimes respond to “things that, upon reflection, don’t seem to be morally relevant” (2013, 212). As example, he cites studies that have shown that the judgments of juries are sensitive to characteristics of the defendant such as race [28, 29], which “we … today regard as morally irrelevant” . In the same vein, Greene has argued that moral judgments concerning the permissibility of different actions in trolley problems are oversensitive to personal force, so that the directness or ‘personalness’ of the force applied by an agent appears to be a significant factor in how morally wrong people consider the same action to be [9, 30]. Second, Greene argues that automatic settings can sometimes be oversensitive, in that they may “fail to respond to things that, upon reflection, do seem to be morally relevant” . Greene sticks with the judicial court for his examples, offering as a case of undersensitivity the sometimes inadequate accounting for a defendant’s age by juries.
While all these examples of oversensitivity/undersensitivity are framed by Greene in terms of unreliability when it comes to moral relevance, he could simply reframe them in terms of undesirability in order to move away from the issue of moral truth. One way to do this might be to take the theory that he values (i.e., utilitarianism) and argue against relying on automatic settings on consequentialist grounds.Footnote 18 That is, he could use a version of his USV argument to show that these cases of unreliability are in fact undesirable in that they fail to effectively maximize happiness. However, since Greene seeks to use both the USV and the unreliability/undesirability of automatic settings as part of his argument for deep pragmatism in order to justify his overall theory (DP), his argument becomes circular. To put it in different terms, to use manual mode because reliance on automatic mode produces consequences that in manual mode appear undesirable is to value manual mode from the start, thereby begging the question. Appealing to utilitarian or manual mode thinking therefore fails to provide a way out.