Moore on Twin Earth

Erkenntnis 75 (1):137-146 (2011)
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Abstract

In a series of articles, Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons have argued that Richard Boyd’s defence of moral realism, utilizing a causal theory of reference, fails. Horgan and Timmons construct a twin Earth-style thought experiment which, they claim, generates intuitions inconsistent with the realist account. In their thought experiment, the use of (allegedly) moral terms at a world is causally regulated by some property distinct from that regulating their use here on Earth; nevertheless, Horgan and Timmons claim, it is intuitive that the inhabitants of this world disagree with us in their moral claims. Since any disagreement would be merely verbal were the alleged moral facts identical to or constituted by different natural facts, the identity or constitution claim must be false. I argue that their argument fails. Horgan and Timmons’ thought experiment is underdescribed; when we fill out the details, I claim, we shall see that the challenge to moral realism fades away. I sketch two possible interpretations of the (apparently) moral claims of the inhabitants of moral Twin Earth. On one interpretation, they fail to disagree with us because they actually agree with us; on the other, they fail to disagree with us because they are not moralizers at all. Which interpretation is true, I argue, will depend on the facts that explain the differences between us and the inhabitants of moral twin Earth

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Neil Levy
Oxford University

Citations of this work

Semantic Challenges to Normative Realism.Tristram McPherson - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (2):126-136.
A Dose of Reality for Moral Twin Earth.Jeffrey Wisdom - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology:1-21.
Biting the Bullet on Moral Twin Earth.Michael Rubin - 2014 - Philosophical Papers 43 (2):285-309.

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References found in this work

The Meaning of 'Meaning'.Hillary Putnam - 1975 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 7:131-193.
Principia Ethica.George Edward Moore - 1903 - Dover Publications.
“How to Be a Moral Realist.Richard Boyd - 1988 - In G. Sayre-McCord (ed.), Essays on Moral Realism. Cornell University Press. pp. 181-228.
Principia Ethica.G. E. Moore - 1903 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 13 (3):7-9.

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