Res Philosophica 98 (1):1-21 (2021)

Sarah McGrath
Princeton University
In the first chapter of The Nature of Morality, Gilbert Harman sets out what he takes to be the “basic issue” confronting moral philosophy: whether moral principles can be “tested and confirmed in the way that scientific principles can... out in the world”. Harman argues that they can’t be. In this paper I argue that if we reject the Harmanian view that confirmation is the converse of explanation, then we can agree with the naturalist realist on the basic epistemological issue of whether moral principles can be tested and confirmed in the way that scientific principles can. But I argue that there nevertheless is an important metaphysical way in which moral explanations differ from certain kinds of non-moral explanations. An upshot is that even realists who think that moral facts are necessary, causally inefficacious, and knowable a priori can agree that moral claims are subject to empirical confirmation in the way that scientific claims are.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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DOI 10.11612/resphil.2010
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References found in this work BETA

Two Dogmas of Empiricism.Willard V. O. Quine - 1951 - Philosophical Review 60 (1):20–43.
The Inference to the Best Explanation.Gilbert H. Harman - 1965 - Philosophical Review 74 (1):88-95.
Objectivity and Truth: You’D Better Believe It.Ronald Dworkin - 1996 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 25 (2):87-139.
Two Dogmas of Empiricism Symposium.W. V. Quine - 1951 - Philosophical Review 60:20.

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