Environ-Moral Realism: Some Prospects for Environmental Metaethics

Journal of Philosophical Research 28:191-221 (2003)
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In recent metaethics there has been a great deal of discussion regarding moral realism. Moral realism in the tradition of ethical naturalism has been revitalized in the form of a synthetic ethical naturalism. This brand of moral realism has interesting theoretical implications for individualistic and holistic models of environmental ethics. In this paper I argue that most theorists of environmental ethics presuppose an irrealist metaethic out of fear of violating Hume's law and Moore's naturalistic fallacy (e.g., Callicott, Taylor, Elliot, and Sterba, while Rolston is a notable exception). But if we take moral realism (in the form of synthetic ethical naturalism) seriously, then environmental ethics has more options than the conventional metaethical maxims of Hume's law and Moore's naturalistic fallacy would allow. Accordingly, I lay out various prospects for a realist environmental metaethic. Environ-moral realism is an attempt to ground nonanthropocentrism in a realist metaethic



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