Four Faces of Moral Realism

Philosophy Compass 2 (6):820-849 (2007)
This essay explains for a general philosophical audience the central issues and strategies in the contemporary moral realism debate. It critically surveys the contribution of some recent scholarship, representing expressivist and pragmatist nondescriptivism (Mark Timmons, Hilary Putnam), subjectivist and nonsubjectivist naturalism (Michael Smith, Paul Bloomfield, Philippa Foot), nonnaturalism (Russ Shafer-Landau, T. M. Scanlon) and error theory (Richard Joyce). Four different faces of ‘moral realism’ are distinguished: semantic, ontological, metaphysical, and normative. The debate is presented as taking shape under dialectical pressure from the demands of (i) capturing the moral appearances and (ii) reconciling morality with our understanding of the mind and world. (Formerly “Explaining Moral Realism”. Updated 7-16-07).
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DOI 10.1111/j.1747-9991.2007.00100.x
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Thomas Scanlon (1998). What We Owe to Each Other. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

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