MORAL REALISM AND EXPERT DISAGREEMENT; pp. 441–457Full article in PDF format | 10.3176/tr.2020.3.10
The fact of moral disagreement is often raised as a problem for moral realism. The idea is that disagreement amongst people or communities on moral issues is to be taken as evidence that there are no objective moral facts. While the fact of ‘folk’ moral disagreement has been of interest, the fact of expert moral disagreement, that is, widespread and longstanding disagreement amongst expert moral philosophers, is even more compelling. In this paper, I present three arguments against the anti-realist explanation for widespread and longstanding disagreement amongst expert moral philosophers. Each argument shows the argument from expert disagreement for moral anti-realism, that is, denial of morality’s objectivity, to be in one way or another self-undermining. I conclude that widespread and longstanding disagreement amongst expert moral philosophers is not a problem for moral realism.
Bourget, David and David J. Chalmers (2014) “What do philosophers believe?”. Philosophical Studies 170, 3, 465-500.
Brink, David O. (1989) Moral realism and the foundations of ethics. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Cowie, Christopher (2016) “Good news for moral error theorists: a master argument against companions in guilt strategies”. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94, 1, 115–130.
Cuneo, Terence (2007) The normative web: an argument for moral realism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Enoch, David (2009) “How is moral disagreement a problem for realism?”. The Journal of Ethics 13, 1, 15–50.
Enoch, David (2011) Taking morality seriously. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Festinger, Leon (1957) A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Hanson, Louise (2018) “Moral realism, aesthetic realism, and the asymmetry claim”. Ethics 129, 1, 39–69.
Huemer, Michael (2005) Ethical intuitionism. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
Horn, Justin (2017) “Moral realism, fundamental moral disagreement, and moral reliability”. Journal of Value Inquiry 51, 3, 363–381.
Horn, Justin (2020) “On moral objections to moral realism”. Journal of Value Inquiry 54, 345–354.
Jaffa, Harry V. (1990) Homosexuality and the natural law. Claremont, CA: The Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy.
Leiter, Brian (2014) “Moral skepticism and moral disagreement in Nietzsche”. In Russ Shafer-Landau, ed. Oxford studies in metaethics. Vol. 9, 126–151.Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mackie, John L. (1977) Ethics: inventing right and wrong. London: Penguin Books.
McGrath, Sarah (2010) “Moral realism without convergence”. Philosophical Topics 38, 2, 59–90.
McPherson, Tristram and David Plunkett (2018) “The nature and explanatory ambitions of metaethics”. In Tristram McPherson and David Plunkett, eds. The Routledge handbook of metaethics,1–25. New York: Routledge.
Nietzsche, Friedrich (1968) The will to power. Translated by Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale, Walter Kaufmann, ed. New York: Vintage Books.
Nobis, Nathan (2005) “Truth in ethics and epistemology: a defense of normative realism”. PhD Diss., University of Rochester.
Pölzler, Thomas (forthcoming) “Against overgeneralization objections to the argument from moral disagreement”. South African Journal of Philosophy.
Risberg, Olle and Folke Tersman (2019) “A new route from moral disagreement to moral skepticism”. Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5, 2, 189–207.
Rowland, Richard (2013) “Moral error theory and the argument from epistemic reasons”. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 7, 1, 1–24.
Sampson, Eric (2019) “The self-undermining arguments from disagreement”. In Russ Shafer-Landau, ed. Oxford Studies in Metaethics. Vol. 14, 23–46. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sauer, Hanno (2019) “The argument from agreement: how universal values undermine moral realism”. Ratio 32, 4, 339-352.
Shafer-Landau, Russ (2003) Moral realism: a defense. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Shafer-Landau, Russ (2006) “Ethics as philosophy: a defense of ethical nonnaturalism”. In Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons, eds. Metaethics after Moore, 209–232. New York: Oxford University Press.
Shafer-Landau, Russ (2013) “Ethics as philosophy: a defense of ethical nonnaturalism”. In Russ Shafer-Landau, ed. Ethical theory: an anthology, 54–62. 2nded. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Schwitzgebel, Eric and Fiery Cushman (2012) “Expertise in moral reasoning? Order effects on moral judgment in professional philosophers and non-philosophers”. Mind and Language 27, 2, 135–153.
Schwitzgebel, Eric and Fiery Cushman (2015) “Philosophers’ biased judgments persist despite training, expertise, and reflection”. Cognition 141, 127–137.
Schwitzgebel, Eric and Jonathan Ellis (2017) “Rationalization in moral and philosophical thought”. In J.-F. Bonnefon and B. Trémolière, eds. Moral inferences,170–190. London: Routledge. Taylor & Francis Group.
Wedgwood, Ralph. (2014) “Moral disagreement among philosophers”. In Michael Bergmann and Patrick Kain, eds. Challenges to moral and religious belief: disagreement and evolution, 23–39. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Winokur, Ben (2017) “Ontological entanglement in the normative web”. Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review 56 (3): 483–501.
Back to Issue