Must Metaethical Realism Make a Semantic Claim?

Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (2):148-178 (2013)
Mackie drew attention to the distinct semantic and metaphysical claims made by metaethical realists, arguing that although our evaluative discourse is cognitive and objective, there are no objective evaluative facts. This distinction, however, also opens up a reverse possibility: that our evaluative discourse is antirealist, yet objective values do exist. I suggest that this seemingly farfetched possibility merits serious attention; realism seems committed to its intelligibility, and, despite appearances, it isn‘t incoherent, ineffable, inherently implausible or impossible to defend. I argue that reflection on this possibility should lead us to revise our understanding of the debate between realists and antirealists. It is not only that the realist‘s semantic claim is insufficient for realism to be true, as Mackie argued; it‘s not even necessary. Robust metaethical realism is best understood as making a purely metaphysical claim. It is thus not enough for antirealists to show that our discourse is antirealist. They must directly attack the realist‘s metaphysical claim.
Keywords Metaethical realism   moral semantics   metaphysics   antirealism   error theory   objective value
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1163/174552412X628869
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Stephen Ingram (2015). After Moral Error Theory, After Moral Realism. Southern Journal of Philosophy 53 (2):227-248.
Guy Kahane (2012). The Value Question in Metaphysics. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (1):27-55.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
JeeLoo Liu (2007). Confucian Moral Realism. Asian Philosophy 17 (2):167 – 184.
Simon Kirchin (2003). Ethical Phenomenology and Metaethics. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 6 (3):241-264.
David J. Chalmers (2009). Ontological Anti-Realism. In David John Chalmers, David Manley & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

271 ( #4,315 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

131 ( #5,263 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.