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Profile: Tristram McPherson (Virginia Tech)
  1. Gunnar Björnsson & Tristram McPherson (2014). Moral Attitudes for Non-Cognitivists: Solving the Specification Problem. Mind 123 (489):1-38.
    Moral non-cognitivists hope to explain the nature of moral agreement and disagreement as agreement and disagreement in non-cognitive attitudes. In doing so, they take on the task of identifying the relevant attitudes, distinguishing the non-cognitive attitudes corresponding to judgements of moral wrongness, for example, from attitudes involved in aesthetic disapproval or the sports fan’s disapproval of her team’s performance. We begin this paper by showing that there is a simple recipe for generating apparent counterexamples to any informative specification of the (...)
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  2. Tristram McPherson (2014). A Case for Ethical Veganism. Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (6):677-703.
    This paper argues for ethical veganism: the thesis that it is typically wrong to consume animal products. The paper first sets out an intuitive case for this thesis that begins with the intuitive claim that it is wrong to set fire to a cat. I then raise a methodological challenge: this is an intuitive argument for a revisionary conclusion. Even if we grant that we cannot both believe that it is permissible to drink milk, and that it is wrong to (...)
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  3. Tristram McPherson (2013). Semantic Challenges to Normative Realism. Philosophy Compass 8 (2):126-136.
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  4. Tristram McPherson (2013). What is at Stake in Debates Among Normative Realists? Noûs 48 (4):n/a-n/a.
    One class of central debates between normative realists appears to concern whether we should be naturalists or reductionists about the normative. However, metaethical discussion of naturalism and reduction is often inconsistent, murky, or uninformative. This can make it hard to see why commitments relative to these metaphysical categories should matter to normative realists. This paper aims to clarify the nature of these categories, and their significance in debates between normative realists. I develop and defend what I call the joint-carving taxonomy, (...)
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  5. Tristram McPherson (2012). Ethical Non-Naturalism and the Metaphysics of Supervenience. In Oxford Studies in Metaethics Vol 7. 205.
    It is widely accepted that the ethical supervenes on the natural, where this is roughly the claim that it is impossible for two circumstances to be identical in all natural respects, but different in their ethical respects. This chapter refines and defends the traditional thought that this fact poses a significant challenge to ethical non-naturalism, a view on which ethical properties are fundamentally different in kind from natural properties. The challenge can be encapsulated in three core claims which the chapter (...)
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  6. Tristram McPherson (2012). Mark Schroeder's Hypotheticalism: Agent-Neutrality, Moral Epistemology, and Methodology. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 157 (3):445-453.
    Symposium contribution on Mark Schroeder's Slaves of the Passions. Argues that Schroeder's account of agent-neutral reasons cannot be made to work, that the limited scope of his distinctive proposal in the epistemology of reasons undermines its plausibility, and that Schroeder faces an uncomfortable tension between the initial motivation for his view and the details of the view he develops.
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  7. Tristram McPherson (2012). Unifying Moral Methodology. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (4):523-549.
    This article argues that the best way to pursue systematic normative ethical theorizing involves metaethical enquiry. My argument builds upon two central claims. First, I argue that plausible metaethical accounts can have implications that can help to resolve the methodological controversies facing normative ethics. Second, I argue that metaethical research is at least roughly as well supported as normative ethical research. I conclude by examining the implications of my thesis. Inter alia, it shows that the common practice of engaging in (...)
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  8. Tristram McPherson (2011). Against Quietist Normative Realism. Philosophical Studies 154 (2):223-240.
    Recently, some philosophers have suggested that a form of robust realism about ethics, or normativity more generally, does not face a significant explanatory burden in metaphysics. I call this view metaphysically quietist normative realism . This paper argues that while this view can appear to constitute an attractive alternative to more traditional forms of normative realism, it cannot deliver on this promise. I examine Scanlon’s attempt to defend such a quietist realism, and argue that rather than silencing metaphysical questions about (...)
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  9. Tristram McPherson (2011). Shafer-Landau , Russ , Ed. Oxford Studies in Metaethics . Vol. 5. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Pp. 324. $99.00 (Cloth); $40.00 (Paper). [REVIEW] Ethics 121 (4):828-832.
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  10. Tristram McPherson (2009). Moorean Arguments and Moral Revisionism. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy.
    G. E. Moore famously argued against skepticism and idealism by appealing to their inconsistency with alleged certainties, like the existence of his own hands. Recently, some philosophers have offered analogous arguments against revisionary views about ethics such as metaethical error theory. These arguments appeal to the inconsistency of error theory with seemingly obvious moral claims like “it is wrong to torture an innocent child just for fun.” It might seem that such ‘Moorean’ arguments in ethics will stand or fall with (...)
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  11. Tristram McPherson (2009). Unnatural Normativity? Critical Notice of Ralph Wedgwood's Nature of Normativity. [REVIEW] Philosophical Books 50 (2):63-82.
    Ralph Wedgwood’s The Nature of Normativity significantly advances our understanding of metaethical realism. After briefly reviewing the overall structure of Wedgwood’s argument for a Platonist realism about normativity, this critical notice focuses on three of the central metaphysical and epistemological claims that he defends. I first explain and raise difficulties for Wedgwood’s core claim that the intentional is normative. I then argue that his innovative attempt to finesse the supervenience problem that faces metaethical Platonists fails. Finally, I critically examine his (...)
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  12. Tristram McPherson (2008). Moral Fictionalism. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 117 (3):445-448.
    This is a short review of Mark Kalderon's book Moral Fictionalism.
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  13. Tristram McPherson (2008). Metaethics & the Autonomy of Morality. Philosophers' Imprint 8 (6):1-16.
    Some philosophers have been attracted to the idea that morality is an autonomous domain. One version of this idea is the thesis that non-moral claims are irrelevant to the justification of fundamental normative ethical theories. However, this autonomy thesis appears to be in tension with a pair of apparent features of metaethical theorizing. On one hand, metaethics seemingly aims to explain how morality fits into our broader conception of the world. On the other, metaethical theorizing appears to have potential normative (...)
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