Against quietist normative realism

Philosophical Studies 154 (2):223-240 (2011)

Abstract

Recently, some philosophers have suggested that a form of robust realism about ethics, or normativity more generally, does not face a significant explanatory burden in metaphysics. I call this view metaphysically quietist normative realism . This paper argues that while this view can appear to constitute an attractive alternative to more traditional forms of normative realism, it cannot deliver on this promise. I examine Scanlon’s attempt to defend such a quietist realism, and argue that rather than silencing metaphysical questions about normative reasons, his defense at best succeeds only in shifting the focus of metaphysical enquiry. I then set aside the details of Scanlon’s view, and argue on general grounds that that the quietist realist cannot finesse a crucial metanormative task: to explain the contrast between the correct normative system and alternative putatively normative standards.

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Author's Profile

Tristram McPherson
Ohio State University

References found in this work

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
Principia Ethica.George Edward Moore - 1903 - Dover Publications.

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Citations of this work

Which Concepts Should We Use?: Metalinguistic Negotiations and The Methodology of Philosophy.David Plunkett - 2015 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (7-8):828-874.
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Fittingness.Christopher Howard - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (11):e12542.
Defining Normativity.Stephen Finlay - 2019 - In Kevin Toh, David Plunkett & Scott Shapiro (eds.), Dimensions of Normativity: New Essays on Metaethics and Jurisprudence. Oxford University Press. pp. 62-104.
The Authority of Formality.Jack Woods - 2018 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 13.

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