Moral Realism

Edited by David Killoren (Australian Catholic University)
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  1. Iris Murdoch: Moral Vision.Anil Gomes - forthcoming - In Mark Hopwood & Silvia Panizza (eds.), The Murdochian Mind. Routledge.
    In the essays which make up The Sovereignty of Good, Iris Murdoch gives us a picture of moral life in which ‘the metaphor of vision [is] almost irresistibly suggested’. This chapter aims to clarify the role played by the metaphor of vision in Murdoch’s philosophical thinking. I’ll examine two different things which might be meant by the term ‘moral vision’: vision of moral things or vision which is itself moral. The suggestion will be that whilst both capture something important about (...)
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  2. Pragmatist Quietism: A Metaethical System.Andrew Sepielli - forthcoming - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
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  3. Strangers to Ourselves: A Nietzschean Challenge to the Badness of Suffering.Nicolas Delon - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Is suffering really bad? The late Derek Parfit argued that we all have reasons to want to avoid future agony and that suffering is in itself bad both for the one who suffers and impersonally. Nietzsche denied that suffering was intrinsically bad and that its value could even be impersonal. This paper has two aims. It argues against what I call ‘Realism about the Value of Suffering’ by drawing from a broadly Nietzschean debunking of our evaluative attitudes, showing that a (...)
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  4. Moral Explanations.Nicholas Sturgeon - 1984 - In David Copp & David Zimmerman (eds.), Morality, Reason and Truth. Totowa, NJ: pp. 49-78.
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  5. The Neuroscience of Human Morality. Three Levels of Normative Implications.Jon Leefmann - 2020 - In Does Neuroscience Have Normative Implications? Cham: pp. 1-22.
    Debates about the implications of empirical research in the natural and social sciences for normative disciplines have recently gained new attention. With the widening scope of neuroscientific investigations into human mental activity, decision-making and agency, neuroethicists and neuroscientists have extensively claimed that results from neuroscientific research should be taken as normatively or even prescriptively relevant. In this chapter, I investigate what these claims could possibly amount to. I distinguish and discuss three readings of the thesis that neuroscientific evidence has normative (...)
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  6. (Draft) The Universe Doesn't Care: Against the Rationalist Defence of Moral Realism.Benjamin Davies - manuscript
    Evolutionary debunking accounts claim that the evolutionary origins of our moral beliefs provide a problem for moral realists because evolutionary explanations of our moral beliefs have more plausibility than realist accounts. A certain kind of response, which I term ‘rationalist’ offers a dual response to evolutionary debunking. First, they offer a supposedly plausible account of how we acquire objective moral knowledge through use of our rationality. Second, they claim that certain moral beliefs are not amenable to evolutionary explanation. I argue (...)
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  7. Moral Explanations of Moral Beliefs: Inappropriate to Demand Them?John J. Tilley - 2020 - Theoria 86 (3):293-308.
    A familiar claim, meant as a challenge to moral knowledge, is that we can credibly accept putative moral facts just in case they explain natural facts. This paper critically addresses Elizabeth Tropman’s response to a version of that claim. Her response has interest partly because it falls within, and extends, an influential philosophical tradition – that of trying to expose (some) skeptical challenges as spurious or ill-conceived. Also, Tropman’s target is not just any version of the claim just mentioned. It (...)
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  8. Beyond Typologies: At the Boundaries of Realist and Ecclesial Ethics.Rebekah Miles - 2020 - Modern Theology 36 (3):561-568.
  9. «Il lato attivo dell'esistenza umana». La riflessione etica di Michael Quante tra filosofia classica tedesca e pragmatismo.Armando Manchisi - 2020 - In Antropologia pragmatista. Padova Lectures. Padova PD, Italia: pp. 17-35.
    The essay introduces Michael Quante's pragmatistic anthropology, focusing on three main ethical issues, namely: (1) the problem of realism, (2) the problem of particularism, and (3) the question about personal identity and its social conditions. By also emphasizing Quante's historical-philosophical debts, the essay thus aims to present the project of the pragmatistic anthropology as a worthwhile alternative to some of the fundamental assumptions of modern ethics. The essay is the Editor's Introduction to the volume: Michael Quante, "Antropologia pragmatista. Padova Lectures" (...)
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  10. La realtà delle norme pratiche. Linee per un confronto fra Hegel e McDowell.Armando Manchisi - 2017 - In Giovanna Miolli & Luca Corti (eds.), Hegel e McDowell: esperienza, verità, normatività. Padova PD, Italia: pp. 21-48.
    The relation between normativity and reality represents one of the most important and challenging issues that metaethics has to deal with. Both Hegel and McDowell have faced the problem in an original way, by reaching philosophical positions that reveal interesting similarities. The core of their proposals, in fact, is the idea that both the extremes of ethical antirealism (for which norms are completely dependent on subjectivity) and strong ethical realism (for which norms are completely independent from subjectivity) provide unsatisfying answers. (...)
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  11. Relaxing About Moral Truths.Christine Tiefensee - 2019 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6 (31):869-890.
    As with all other moral realists, so-called relaxed moral realists believe that there are moral truths. Unlike metaphysical moral realists, they do not take themselves to be defending a substantively metaphysical position when espousing this view, but to be putting forward a moral thesis from within moral discourse. In this paper, I employ minimalism about truth to examine whether or not there is a semantic analysis of the claim ‘There are moral truths’ which can support this moral interpretation of one (...)
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  12. Erik Wielenberg’s Metaphysics of Morals.William Lane Craig - 2018 - Philosophia Christi 20 (2):333-338.
    Focusing on Erik Wielenberg’s metaphysic of morals, I argue that his moral Platonism is, given the presumption against the existence of abstract objects, unmotivated. Moreover, Godless Normative Realism is implausible in light of the mysterious causal relations said to obtain between concrete objects and moral abstracta. His appeals to theism in order to motivate such causal connections is nugatory. If Wielenberg walks back his moral Platonism, then his metaphysics of morals collapses and Godless Normative Realism becomes explanatorily vacuous.
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  13. Reply to Craig, Murphy, McNabb, and Johnson.Erik J. Wielenberg - 2018 - Philosophia Christi 20 (2):365-375.
    In Robust Ethics, I defend a nontheistic version of moral realism according to which moral properties are sui generis, not reducible to other kinds of properties and objective morality requires no foundation external to itself. I seek to provide a plausible account of the metaphysics and epistemology of the robust brand of moral realism I favor that draws on both analytic philosophy and contemporary empirical moral psychology. In this paper, I respond to some objections to my view advanced by William (...)
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  14. Relax? Don’T Do It! Why Moral Realism Won't Come Cheap.Sarah McGrath - 2014 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 9.
    Relaxed realists hold that there are deep differences between moral truths and the truths studied by the empirical sciences, but they deny that these differences raise troubling metaphysical or epistemological questions about moral truths. On this view, although features such as causal inefficacy, perceptual inaccessibility, and failure to figure in the best explanations of our empirical beliefs would raise pressing skeptical concerns were they claimed to characterize some aspect of physical reality, the same is not true when it comes to (...)
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  15. The Hard Problem for Soft Moral Realism.Lei Zhong - 2019 - Journal of Philosophy 116 (10):555-576.
    Several leading moral philosophers have recently proposed a soft version of moral realism, according to which moral facts—though it is reasonable to postulate them—cannot metaphysically explain other facts (Dworkin 2011; Parfit 2011; Scanlon 2014). However, soft moral realism is faced with what I call the “Hard Problem”, namely, the problem of how this soft version of moral metaphysics could accommodate moral knowledge. This paper reconstructs three approaches to solving the Hard Problem on behalf of the soft realist: the autonomy approach, (...)
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  16. Metasemantics, Moral Realism and Moral Doctrines.Christine Tiefensee - forthcoming - In Visa A. J. Kurki & Mark Mcbride (eds.), Without Trimmings: The Legal, Moral, and Political Philosophy of Matthew Kramer. Oxford, Vereinigtes Königreich:
    In this paper, I consider the relationship between Matthew Kramer’s moral realism as a moral doctrine and expressivism, understood as a distinctly non-representationalist metasemantic theory of moral vocabulary. More precisely, I will argue that Kramer is right in stating that moral realism as a moral doctrine does not stand in conflict with expressivism. But I will also go further, by submitting that advocates of moral realism as a moral doctrine must adopt theories such as expressivism in some shape or form. (...)
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  17. A Debunking Explanation for Moral Progress.Nathan Cofnas - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (11):3171-3191.
    According to “debunking arguments,” our moral beliefs are explained by evolutionary and cultural processes that do not track objective, mind-independent moral truth. Therefore (the debunkers say) we ought to be skeptics about moral realism. Huemer counters that “moral progress”—the cross-cultural convergence on liberalism—cannot be explained by debunking arguments. According to him, the best explanation for this phenomenon is that people have come to recognize the objective correctness of liberalism. Although Huemer may be the first philosopher to make this explicit empirical (...)
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  18. Pragmatist Quietism.Andrew Sepielli - manuscript
  19. Moral Realism and Semantic Plasticity.David Manley - manuscript
    Are moral terms semantically plastic—that is, would very slight changes in our patterns of use have shifted their meanings? This is a delicate question for moral realists. A 'yes' answer seems to conflict with the sorts of intuitions that support realism; but a 'no' answer seems to require a semantics that involves hefty metaphysical commitments. This tension can be illustrated by thinking about how standard accounts of vagueness can be applied to the case of moral terms, and also by considering (...)
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  20. III—Normative Facts and Reasons.Fabienne Peter - 2019 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 119 (1):53-75.
    The main aim of this paper is to identify a type of fact-given warrant for action that is distinct from reason-based justification for action and defend the view that there are two types of practical warrant. The idea that there are two types of warrant is familiar in epistemology, but has not received much attention in debates on practical normativity. On the view that I will defend, normative facts, qua facts, give rise to entitlement warrant for action. But they do (...)
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  21. Nature, Value, and Virtue: An Evolutionary Defense of Moral Realism.Thomas Kiefer - 2017 - Dissertation, Fordham University
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  22. The Moral Universalism-Relativism Debate.Katinka Quintelier, D. De Smet & D. M. T. Fessler - 2013 - Klēsis Revue Philosophique 27:211-262.
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  23. What’s Wrong with Relaxing?Christine Tiefensee - 2019 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 16 (6):725-742.
    In his new book Unbelievable Errors, Bart Streumer argues that there is no way around the result that all metaethical views other than the error theory either fail for the same reasons as metaphysical normative realism, or for the same reasons as expressivism. In this contribution, I seek to show that this is false: We can eschew this result by ‘relaxing’ about normative truths. Even if Streumer were right about the fate of metaphysical normative realism and expressivism, then, relaxed realists (...)
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  24. Choosing Normative Concepts.Matthew S. Bedke - 2019 - Philosophical Review 128 (1):121-126.
    This is a review of Eklund's book. It discusses his suggestion that "ardent realists" use the practical profiles of normative concepts to A) explain what it is for a concept to be normative, B) fix reference, and C) provide an extensional theory of normative properties. I argue that those sympathetic to ardent realism will be happier to focus on the way in which normativity presents itself to cognition, particularly that presentation of inherent, authoritative guidance, and whether that 1) explains what (...)
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  25. Evolution and Utilitarianism.François Jaquet - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (5):1151-1161.
    Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer have recently provided an evolutionary argument for utilitarianism. They argue that most of our deontological beliefs were shaped by evolution, from which they conclude that these beliefs are unjustified. By contrast, they maintain that the utilitarian belief that everyone’s well-being matters equally is immune to such debunking arguments because it wasn’t similarly influenced. However, Guy Kahane remarks that this belief lacks substantial content unless it is paired with an account of well-being, and he adds (...)
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  26. Theism and Explanationist Defenses of Moral Realism.Andrew Brenner - 2018 - Faith and Philosophy 35 (4):447-463.
    Some moral realists have defended moral realism on the basis of the purported fact that moral facts figure as components in some good explanations of non-moral phenomena. In this paper I explore the relationship between theism and this sort of explanationist defense of moral realism. Theistic explanations often make reference to moral facts, and do so in a manner which is ineliminable in an important respect – remove the moral facts from those explanations, and they suffer as a result. In (...)
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  27. Are All Things Permissible?: A Look at Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors".Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    In this essay I examine the moral message presented in Woody Allen's film, "Crimes and Misdemeanors.".
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  28. Compassionate Moral Realism.Colin Marshall - 2018 - Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.
    This book offers a ground-up defense of objective morality, drawing inspiration from a wide range of philosophers, including John Locke, Arthur Schopenhauer, Iris Murdoch, Nel Noddings, and David Lewis. The core claim is compassion is our capacity to perceive other creatures' pains, pleasures, and desires. Non-compassionate people are therefore perceptually lacking, regardless of how much factual knowledge they might have. Marshall argues that people who do have this form of compassion thereby fit a familiar paradigm of moral goodness. His argument (...)
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  29. Book Reviews : God's Call: Moral Realism, God's Commands and Human Autonomy, by John E. Hare. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2001. X + 122 Pp. Hb. £9.99. ISBN 0-8028-3903-7. [REVIEW]Paul Helm - 2003 - Studies in Christian Ethics 16 (1):92-94.
  30. Metaethical Quietism.Douglas Kremm & Karl Schafer - 2017 - In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. Routledge. pp. 643-658.
  31. Access Problems and Explanatory Overkill.Silvia Jonas - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2731-2742.
    I argue that recent attempts to deflect Access Problems for realism about a priori domains such as mathematics, logic, morality, and modality using arguments from evolution result in two kinds of explanatory overkill: the Access Problem is eliminated for contentious domains, and realist belief becomes viciously immune to arguments from dispensability, and to non-rebutting counter-arguments more generally.
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  32. Darwinism in Metaethics: What If the Universal Acid Cannot Be Contained?Eleonora Severini & Fabio Sterpetti - 2017 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 39 (3):1-25.
    The aim of this article is to explore the impact of Darwinism in metaethics and dispel some of the confusion surrounding it. While the prospects for a Darwinian metaethics appear to be improving, some underlying epistemological issues remain unclear. We will focus on the so-called Evolutionary Debunking Arguments (EDAs) which, when applied in metaethics, are defined as arguments that appeal to the evolutionary origins of moral beliefs so as to undermine their epistemic justification. The point is that an epistemic disanalogy (...)
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  33. Debunking Arguments in Metaethics and Metaphysics.Daniel Z. Korman - 2019 - In Alvin Goldman & Brian McLaughlin (eds.), Metaphysics and Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press. pp. 337-363.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments abound, but it is widely assumed that they do not arise for our perceptual beliefs about midsized objects, insofar as the adaptive value of our object beliefs cannot be explained without reference to the objects themselves. I argue that this is a mistake. Just as with moral beliefs, the adaptive value of our object beliefs can be explained without assuming that the beliefs are accurate. I then explore the prospects for other sorts of vindications of our object (...)
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  34. What Kind of Theory is the Humean Theory of Motivation?Caroline T. Arruda - 2017 - Ratio 30 (3):322-342.
    I consider an underappreciated problem for proponents of the Humean theory of motivation. Namely, it is unclear whether is it to be understood as a largely psychological or largely metaphysical theory. I show that the psychological interpretation of HTM will need to be modified in order to be a tenable view and, as it will turn out, the modifications required render it virtually philosophically empty. I then argue that the largely metaphysical interpretation is the only a plausible interpretation of HTM's (...)
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  35. Nietzsche on Taste: Epistemic Privilege and Anti-Realism.Jonathan Mitchell - 2017 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (1-2):31-65.
    The central aim of this article is to argue that Nietzsche takes his own taste, and those in the relevant sense similar to it, to enjoy a kind of epistemic privilege over their rivals. Section 2 will examine the textual evidence for an anti-realist reading of Nietzsche on taste. Section 3 will then provide an account of taste as an ‘affective evaluative sensibility’, asking whether taste so understood supports an anti-realist reading. I will argue that it does not and that (...)
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  36. Patañjali’s Yoga: Universal Ethics as the Formal Cause of Autonomy.Shyam Ranganathan - 2017 - In The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Indian Ethics. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 177-202.
    Yoga is a nonspeciesist liberalism, founded in a moral non-naturalism, which identifies the essence of personhood as the Lord, defined by unconservative self-governance—an abstraction from each of us that is non-proprietary. According to Yoga, the right is defined as the approximation of the regulative ideal (the Lord) and the good is the perfection of this practice, which delivers us from a life of coercion into a personal world of freedom. It is an alternative to Deontology, Consequentialism, and Virtue Ethics, which (...)
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  37. Vedānta – Rāmānuja and Madhva: Moral Realism and Freedom Vs. Determinism (Ethics 1, M11).Shyam Ranganathan - 2016 - In A. Raghuramaraju (ed.), Philosophy, E-PG Pathshala. Delhi: India, Department of Higher Education (NMEICT).
    Vedānta has two meanings. The first is the literal sense – “End of Vedas” – and refers to the Āraṇyakas and Upaniṣads—the latter part of the Vedas. The second sense of “Vedanta” is a scholastic one, and refers to a philosophical orientation that attempts to explain the cryptic Vedānta Sūtra (Brahma Sūtra) of Bādarāyaṇa, which aims at being a summary of the End of the Vedas. In the previous module, I review the ethics of the End of the Vedas and (...)
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  38. Ethics and Reality (Ethics-1, M06).Shyam Ranganathan - 2016 - In A. Raghuramaraju (ed.), Philosophy, E-PG Pathshala. Delhi: India, Department of Higher Education (NMEICT).
    In this lesson, I explore three areas of intersection between ethics and metaphysics: accounts of the self, the reality of value, and basic distinctions in ethical theory. I compare the account of the self as a chariot from the Kaṭha Upaniṣad (Deontology), early Buddhism from Questions of King Milinda (Consequentialism), and Plato's Phaedrus (Virtue Ethics). In each case, the metaphysical model is continuous with the moral theory of the same perspective and adopted to accommodate the moral theory. I also compare (...)
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  39. Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics.Mark T. Nelson - 1990 - Philosophical Books 31 (3):169-171.
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  40. Kant y Apel: El Problema de la Fundamentación Trascendental de la Moral.José Luis López Y. López de Lizaga - 2010 - Revista de Filosofía (Madrid) 35 (2):59-81.
    Este artículo compara los argumentos de Kant contra la deducción trascendental de la ley moral con el intento de fundamentación pragmático-trascendental de la moral propuesto por Apel. A pesar de mejorar los argumentos trascendentales kantianos, las tesis de Apel sobre la fundamentación trascendental de la moral parecen incurrir en una confusión entre la constricción de las leyes lógicas y la obligatoriedad de las normas morales, y en última instancia parecen borrar la diferencia kantiana entre razón teórica y razón práctica.
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  41. Christian Moral Realism: Natural Law, Narrative, Virtue, and the Gospel. [REVIEW]Daniel N. Robinson - 2005 - Faith and Philosophy 22 (1):115-119.
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  42. The Poverty of Naturalistic Moral Realism: Comments on Timmons.Margaret Holmgren - 1991 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 29 (Supplement):131-135.
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  43. Neointuitionism: The Neglected Moral Realism.Robert G. Burton - 1987 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 25 (2):147-152.
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  44. Moral Realism.James C. Klagge & Torbjorn Tannsjo - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (4):921.
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  45. Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics.Robert Shaver - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):458.
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  46. Inferentialist Metaethics, Bifurcations and Ontological Commitment.Christine Tiefensee - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (9):2437-2459.
    According to recent suggestions within the global pragmatism discussion, metaethical debate must be fundamentally re-framed. Instead of carving out metaethical differences in representational terms, it has been argued that metaethics should be given an inferentialist footing. In this paper, I put inferentialist metaethics to the test by subjecting it to the following two criteria for success: Inferentialist metaethicists must be able to save the metaethical differences between moral realism and expressivism, and do so in a way that employs understandings of (...)
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  47. Reductionist Moral Realism and the Contingency of Moral Evolution.Max Barkhausen - 2016 - Ethics 126 (3):662-689.
    Reductionist forms of moral realism, such as naturalist realism, are often thought immune to epistemological objections that have been raised against nonnaturalist realism in the form of reliability worries or evolutionary debunking arguments. This article establishes that reductionist realist views can only explain the reliability of our moral beliefs at the cost of incurring repugnant first-order conclusions.
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  48. Moral Realism.Torbjorn Tannsjo - 1989 - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
    '...the book is very dense with ideas...arguments concerning innumerable interesting points are always worth pondering.'-THE PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW.
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  49. Our Reliability is in Principle Explainable.Dan Baras - 2017 - Episteme 14 (2):197-211.
    Non-skeptical robust realists about normativity, mathematics, or any other domain of non- causal truths are committed to a correlation between their beliefs and non- causal, mind-independent facts. Hartry Field and others have argued that if realists cannot explain this striking correlation, that is a strong reason to reject their theory. Some consider this argument, known as the Benacerraf–Field argument, as the strongest challenge to robust realism about mathematics, normativity, and even logic. In this article I offer two closely related accounts (...)
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  50. Realism, Rational Action, and the Humean Theory of Motivation.Melissa Barry - 2007 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (3):231-242.
    Realists about practical reasons agree that judgments regarding reasons are beliefs. They disagree, however, over the question of how such beliefs motivate rational action. Some adopt a Humean conception of motivation, according to which beliefs about reasons must combine with independently existing desires in order to motivate rational action; others adopt an anti-Humean view, according to which beliefs can motivate rational action in their own right, either directly or by giving rise to a new desire that in turn motivates the (...)
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