Epistemic modesty in ethics

Philosophical Studies 175 (7):1577-1596 (2018)
Abstract
Many prominent ethicists, including Shelly Kagan, John Rawls, and Thomas Scanlon, accept a kind of epistemic modesty thesis concerning our capacity to carry out the project of ethical theorizing. But it is a thesis that has received surprisingly little explicit and focused attention, despite its widespread acceptance. After explaining why the thesis is true, I argue that it has several implications in metaethics, including, especially, implications that should lead us to rethink our understanding of Reductive Realism. In particular, the thesis of epistemic modesty in ethics implies a kind of epistemic modesty about the metaphysical nature of ethics, if Reductive Realism about the metaphysical nature of ethics is true, and it implies that normative concepts are indispensable to practical deliberation in a way that answers an influential objection to Reductive Realism from Jonathan Dancy, David Enoch, William FitzPatrick, and Derek Parfit.
Keywords Normative Ethics  Metaethics  Metaphilosophy  Normative Concepts  Reductive Realism  Robust Realism  Moral Concepts
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-017-0924-3
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References found in this work BETA
On What Grounds What.Jonathan Schaffer - 2009 - In David Manley, David J. Chalmers & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 347-383.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.
By Our Bootstraps.Karen Bennett - 2011 - Philosophical Perspectives 25 (1):27-41.
Slaves of the Passions.Mark Schroeder - 2009 - Analysis 69 (3):574-576.
Grounding Practical Normativity: Going Hybrid.Ruth Chang - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (1):163-187.

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The Sense of Incredibility in Ethics.N. G. Laskowski - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-23.

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