Coherentist Naturalism in Ethics

Journal of Philosophical Research 25:471-487 (2000)
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Abstract

After briefly arguing that neither rule-based ethics nor virtue ethics offers promise as a moral theory, I state that argument by analogy is a satisfactory form of moral deliberation. I show that what is right must be whatever corresponds to the largest and most coherent set of a society’s moral values. Since we would not know how to interpret the claim that what is right might be repugnant to all our shared moral values, I argue that a definitional naturalist position passes Moore’s open question test. “X is right” just means “performing X satisfies the largest and most coherent set of our altruistic and self-interested desires.” On this view, moral properties are real relational properties. I raise and respond to several objections.

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James Ryan
University of Miami (PhD)

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