Contingency, Sociality, and Moral Progress

Journal of the American Philosophical Association:1-20 (forthcoming)
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A debate has recently appeared regarding whether non-naturalism is better than other metaethical views at explaining moral progress. I shall take the occasion of this debate to present a novel debunking dilemma for moral non-naturalists, extending Sharon Street's Darwinian one. I will argue that moral progress indicates that our moral attitudes tend to reflect contingent sociocultural and psychological factors. For non-naturalists, there is then either a relation between these factors and the moral facts, non-naturalistically construed, or there is not. If there is no relation, the contingent factors are unlikely to lead to moral knowledge. If there is a relation, they must be likely to lead to non-naturalist-style moral knowledge, but no theoretically virtuous explanation of moral progress is likely to accommodate non-naturalist commitments. It follows that non-naturalist moral realism cannot explain our moral knowledge. I call this a contingentist challenge to non-naturalism.

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Olof Leffler
Università degli Studi di Siena

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References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
A Darwinian dilemma for realist theories of value.Sharon Street - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 127 (1):109-166.
Moral realism.Peter Railton - 1986 - Philosophical Review 95 (2):163-207.
“How to Be a Moral Realist.Richard Boyd - 1988 - In G. Sayre-McCord (ed.), Essays on Moral Realism. Cornell University Press. pp. 181-228.

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