David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy Compass 5 (5):363-384 (2010)
Most agree that when it comes to so-called 'first-order' normative ethics and political philosophy, constructivist views are a powerful family of positions. When it comes to metaethics, however, there is serious disagreement about what, if anything, constructivism has to contribute. In this paper I argue that constructivist views in ethics include not just a family of substantive normative positions, but also a distinct and highly attractive metaethical view. I argue that the widely accepted 'proceduralist characterization' of constructivism in ethics is inadequate, and I propose what I call the 'practical standpoint characterization' in its place. I then offer a general taxonomy of constructivist positions in ethics. Since constructivism's standing as a family of substantive normative positions is relatively uncontested, I devote the remainder of the paper to addressing skeptics' worries about the distinctiveness of constructivism understood as a metaethical view. I compare and contrast constructivism with three other standard metaethical positions with which it is often confused or mistakenly thought to be compatible: realism; naturalist reductions in terms of an ideal response; and expressivism. In discussing the contrast with expressivism, I explain the sense in which, according to the constructivist, the distinction between substantive normative ethics and metaethics breaks down. I conclude by distinguishing between two importantly different debates about the mind-dependence of value. I argue that a failure to make this distinction is part of what explains why the possibility of constructivism as a metaethical view is often overlooked.
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References found in this work BETA
Allan Gibbard (2003). Thinking How to Live. Harvard University Press.
Thomas Scanlon (1998). What We Owe to Each Other. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
John Rawls (1993). Political Liberalism. Columbia University Press.
Allan Gibbard (1990). Wise Choices, Apt Feelings: A Theory of Normative Judgment. Harvard University Press.
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Citations of this work BETA
Sharon Street (2009). In Defense of Future Tuesday Indifference: Ideally Coherent Eccentrics and the Contingency of What Matters. Philosophical Issues 19 (1):273-298.
Sharon Street (2009). Evolution and the Normativity of Epistemic Reasons. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (sup1):213-248.
Hannah Altehenger, Simon Gaus & Andreas Leonhard Menges (2015). Being Realistic About Reflective Equilibrium. Analysis 75 (3):514-522.
Cory Davia & Michele Palmira (2015). Moral Deference and Deference to an Epistemic Peer. Philosophical Quarterly 65 (261):605-625.
Karl Schafer (2015). Realism and Constructivism in Kantian Metaethics : Realism and Constructivism in a Kantian Context. Philosophy Compass 10 (10):690-701.
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