How is Moral Disagreement a Problem for Realism?

The Journal of Ethics 13 (1):15-50 (2009)
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Abstract

Moral disagreement is widely held to pose a threat for metaethical realism and objectivity. In this paper I attempt to understand how it is that moral disagreement is supposed to present a problem for metaethical realism. I do this by going through several distinct (though often related) arguments from disagreement, carefully distinguishing between them, and critically evaluating their merits. My conclusions are rather skeptical: Some of the arguments I discuss fail rather clearly. Others supply with a challenge to realism, but not one we have any reason to believe realism cannot address successfully. Others beg the question against the moral realist, and yet others raise serious objections to realism, but ones that—when carefully stated—can be seen not to be essentially related to moral disagreement. Arguments based on moral disagreement itself have almost no weight, I conclude, against moral realism.

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David Enoch
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

References found in this work

The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The elements of moral philosophy.James Rachels & Stuart Rachels - 2019 - New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education. Edited by James Rachels.
Ethics and the limits of philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1985 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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