The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Truth About Morality and What to Do About It

Dissertation, Princeton University (2002)

Authors
Joshua D. Greene
Harvard University
Abstract
In this essay I argue that ordinary moral thought and language is, while very natural, highly counterproductive and that as a result we would be wise to change the way we think and talk about moral matters. First, I argue on metaphysical grounds against moral realism, the view according to which there are first order moral truths. Second, I draw on principles of moral psychology, cognitive science, and evolutionary theory to explain why moral realism appears to be true even though it is not. I then argue, based on the picture of moral psychology developed herein, that realist moral language and thought promotes misunderstanding and exacerbates conflict. I consider a number of standard views concerning the practical implications of moral anti-realism and reject them. I then sketch and defend a set of alternative revisionist proposals for improving moral discourse, chief among them the elimination of realist moral language, especially deontological language, and the promotion of an anti-realist utilitarian framework for discussing moral issues of public concern. I emphasize the importance of revising our moral practices, suggesting that our entrenched modes of moral thought may be responsible for our failure to solve a number of global social problems.
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The Past and Future of Experimental Philosophy.Thomas Nadelhoffer & Eddy Nahmias - 2007 - Philosophical Explorations 10 (2):123 – 149.
The Argument From Moral Experience.Don Loeb - 2007 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (5):469-484.
Moral Judgments and Emotions: A Less Intimate Relationship Than Recently Claimed.Thomas Pölzler - 2015 - Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 35 (3):177-195.

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