Moral Realism and Philosophical Angst

In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics Volume 15 (2020)
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Abstract

This paper defends pro-realism, the view that it is better if moral realism is true rather than any of its rivals. After offering an account of philosophical angst, I make three general arguments. The first targets nihilism: in securing the possibility of moral justification and vindication in objecting to certain harms, moral realism secures something that is non-morally valuable and even essential to the meaning and intelligibility of our lives. The second argument targets antirealism: moral realism secures a desirable independence for moral justification that is qualitatively different from the anti-realistic construal of independence that is only explicable in terms of degrees of distance from our subjective responses and attitudes. Finally, I argue that while the pan-expressivist semantic program of quasi-realism has significant effects on what can be appropriately said in meta-ethical discourse, it provides no comfort to the pro-realist who is already angsty about anti-realism.

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Joshua Blanchard
Oakland University