Moral rationalism and empirical immunity


With the rapid recent growth of naturalized metaethics, Richard Joyce’s paper sounds an appropriate cautionary note. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by sexy new data and to neglect the difficulties in using the data to draw major philosophical conclusions. One of the central views in the sights of naturalists has been moral rationalism. Jonathan Haidt (2001), Joshua Greene (this volume), Jesse Prinz (forthcoming), and I (2002, 2004b) have all used recent empirical findings to challenge moral rationalist views. Although Joyce is not himself a moral rationalist (see Joyce 2002), he deftly works to beat back our attacks on moral rationalism. Here my goal is to uphold the view that empirical work can challenge moral rationalism in the aftermath of Joyce’s insightful discussion.

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