Meta-Ethical Quietism? Wittgenstein, Relaxed Realism, and Countercultures in Meta-Ethics

In Jonathan Beale & Richard Rowland (eds.), Wittgenstein and Contemporary Moral Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Ludwig Wittgenstein has often been called a quietist. His work has inspired a rich and varied array of theories in moral philosophy. Some prominent meta-ethicists have also been called quietists, or ‘relaxed’ as opposed to ‘robust’ realists, sometimes with explicit reference to Wittgenstein in attempts to clarify their views. In this chapter, I compare and contrast these groups of theories and draw out their importance for contemporary meta-ethical debate. They represent countercultures to contemporary meta-ethics. That is, they reject in different ways one or more of the common assumptions that, whilst not universally shared, shape how to understand and engage in contemporary meta-ethical debate. Despite striking similarities, I argue that the ‘quietist’ label has obscured the views it is used to describe, the crucial differences between them, and the challenge that they offer to the predominant culture of meta-ethical enquiry. That challenge is this: there are plausible different ways of understanding and doing meta-ethics to those of the meta-ethical orthodoxy. We ignore such heterodoxy at our own peril.



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Farbod Akhlaghi
Cambridge University

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References found in this work

After virtue: a study in moral theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1981 - Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press.
Being Realistic About Reasons.Thomas Scanlon - 2014 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Taking Morality Seriously: A Defense of Robust Realism.David Enoch - 2011 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.

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