Beyond objectivism: new methods for studying metaethical intuitions

Philosophical Psychology 34 (1):125-153 (2021)
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Moral realists often assume that folk intuitions are predominantly realist, and they argue that this places the burden of proof on antirealists. More broadly, appeals to intuition in metaethics typically assume that folk judgments are generally consistent across individuals, such that they are at least predominantly something, if not realist. A substantial body of empirical work on moral objectivism has investigated these assumptions, but findings remain inconclusive due to methodological limitations. Objectivist judgments classify individuals into broad categories of realism and antirealism, but they do not address more specific conflicts in the metaethical literature between different types of realism and antirealism, such as between nonnaturalism and divine command theory, or between noncognitivism and error theory. Further, the data currently show that the folk are objectivists about some moral claims but not others, raising questions that have not been addressed in previous studies about how much of the moral domain is judged to be objective, and about how endorsements of different types of realism and antirealism are distributed among different types of moral claims. Here, I present a new survey that addresses these limitations. The results challenge both of the empirical assumptions identified above, with important implications for metaethical methodology.



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Taylor Davis
Purdue University

References found in this work

Moral realism.Peter Railton - 1986 - Philosophical Review 95 (2):163-207.
Wise Choices, Apt Feelings.Allan Gibbard - 1990 - Ethics 102 (2):342-356.
Principia Ethica.George Edward Moore - 1903 - International Journal of Ethics 14 (3):377-382.
Moral relativism defended.Gilbert Harman - 1975 - Philosophical Review 84 (1):3-22.

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