Noûs 53 (4):904-936 (2019)

Authors
Selim Berker
Harvard University
Abstract
Moral properties are explained by other properties. And moral principles tell us about moral properties. How are these two ideas related? In particular, is the truth of a given moral principle part of what explains why a given action has a given moral property? I argue “No.” If moral principles are merely concerned with the extension of moral properties across all possible worlds, then they cannot be partial explainers of facts about the instantiation of those properties, since in general necessitation does not suffice for explanation. And if moral principles are themselves about what explains the moral properties under their purview, then by their own lights they are not needed in order to explain those moral properties’ instantiation—unless, that is, the principles exhibit an objectionable form of metaphysical circularity. So moral principles cannot explain why individual actions have moral properties. Nor, I also argue, can they explain why certain other factors explain why those actions have the moral properties that they do, or in some other way govern or mediate such first-order explanations of particular moral facts. When it comes to the explanation of an individual action’s specific moral features, moral principles are explanatorily idle.
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DOI 10.1111/nous.12246
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References found in this work BETA

Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
Ethics Without Principles.Jonathan Dancy - 2004 - Oxford University Press.
Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 109-36.
Grounding in the Image of Causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):49-100.
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Citations of this work BETA

Debunking Arguments and Metaphysical Laws.Jonathan Barker - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (7):1829-1855.
Two Sorts of Constitutivism.Jeremy David Fix - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
The Metaphysics of Moral Explanations.Daniel Fogal & Olle Risberg - 2020 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 15.
The Mackiean Supervenience Challenge.Victor Moberger - 2019 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (1):219-236.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

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