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
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.
Christine M. Korsgaard (1996). The Sources of Normativity. Cambridge University Press.
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.
Hannah Altehenger, Simon Gaus & Andreas Leonhard Menges (2015). Being Realistic About Reflective Equilibrium. Analysis (3):1-10.
Daniel Greco (2015). Epistemological Open Questions. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (3):509-523.
Brendan Cline (2015). Nativism and the Evolutionary Debunking of Morality. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (2):231-253.
Abraham D. Graber (2015). Towards a Cognitive Scientific Vindication of Moral Realism: The Semantic Argument. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (5):1059-1069.
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