Can program explanation confer ontological rights for the Cornell realist variety of moral realism?

In his Introduction to Contemporary Metaethics, Alex Miller considered a defence that might be made on behalf of the moral non-reductive naturalist in response to Gilbert Harman’s explanatory objection, a response that uses Frank Jackson’s and Philip Pettit’s account of ‘program explanation.’ However, Miller went on to argue that program explanation fails to successfully defend the moral non-reductive naturalist against Harman’s objection. Recently Paul Bloomfield and Mark Nelson have argued against Miller that program explanation does in fact successfully defend the moral non-reductive naturalist, because the only full explanation of why the relevant counterfactual, discussed in this thesis, is true requires the use of program explanation. Following Miller, I argue that the fact that counterfactuals are context sensitive undermines the argument developed by Nelson, and I also attempt to undermine Bloomfield’s recent defence of Nelson. Contrary to Bloomfield and Nelson, program explanation is not required in order to explain why the relevant counterfactual is true, so that Harman’s explanatory objection is left intact
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Mark T. Nelson (2006). Moral Realism and Program Explanation. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (3):417 – 428.
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