David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
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
Carla Bagnoli (2002). Moral Constructivism: A Phenomenological Argument. Topoi 21 (1-2):125-138.
Simon Blackburn (1993). Essays in Quasi-Realism. Oxford University Press.
Simon Blackburn (1984). Spreading the Word. Clarendon Press.
David Copp (ed.) (2006). The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory. Oxford University Press.
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Citations of this work BETA
Chris Meyers (2012). Expressivism, Constructivism, and the Supervenience of Moral Properties. Philosophical Explorations 15 (1):17-31.
Niall Connolly (2012). Truth As, At Most, One. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 20 (1):135-147.
Michael Buckley (2013). The Priority of Legitimacy in Times of Political Transition. Human Rights Review 14 (4):327-345.
Michael Buckley (2013). A Constructivist Approach to Business Ethics. Journal of Business Ethics 117 (4):695-706.
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