Epistemicism and Moral Vagueness

Abstract

This essay defends an epistemicist response to the phenomenon of vagueness concerning moral terms. I outline a traditional model of -- and then two novel approaches to -- epistemicism about moral predicates, and I demonstrate how the foregoing are able to provide robust explanations of the source of moral, as epistemic, indeterminacy. The first model of epistemic indeterminacy concerns the extensions of moral predicates, as witnessed by the non-transitivity of a value-theoretic sorites paradox. The second model of moral epistemicism is induced by the status of moral dilemmas in the epistemic interpretation of two-dimensional semantics. I examine the philosophical significance of the foregoing, and compare the proposal to those of ethical expressivism, constructivism, and scalar act-consequentialism. Finally, I examine the status of moral relativism in light of the epistemicist models of moral vagueness developed in the paper, and I argue that the rigidity of ethical value-theoretic concepts adduces in favor of an epistemic interpretation of the indeterminacy thereof.

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References found in this work

The Emotional Construction of Morals.Jesse Prinz - 2007 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
The Character of Consciousness.David John Chalmers - 2010 - , US: Oxford University Press.
The Realm of Reason.Christopher Peacocke - 2003 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
A Theory of Metaphysical Indeterminacy.Elizabeth Barnes & J. Robert G. Williams - 2011 - In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics volume 6. Oxford University Press. pp. 103-148.
Fittingness: The sole normative primitive.Richard Yetter Chappell - 2012 - Philosophical Quarterly 62 (249):684 - 704.

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