David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy Compass 5 (5):363-384 (2010)
Most agree that when it comes to so-called 'first-order' normative ethics and political philosophy, constructivist views are a powerful family of positions. When it comes to metaethics, however, there is serious disagreement about what, if anything, constructivism has to contribute. In this paper I argue that constructivist views in ethics include not just a family of substantive normative positions, but also a distinct and highly attractive metaethical view. I argue that the widely accepted 'proceduralist characterization' of constructivism in ethics is inadequate, and I propose what I call the 'practical standpoint characterization' in its place. I then offer a general taxonomy of constructivist positions in ethics. Since constructivism's standing as a family of substantive normative positions is relatively uncontested, I devote the remainder of the paper to addressing skeptics' worries about the distinctiveness of constructivism understood as a metaethical view. I compare and contrast constructivism with three other standard metaethical positions with which it is often confused or mistakenly thought to be compatible: realism; naturalist reductions in terms of an ideal response; and expressivism. In discussing the contrast with expressivism, I explain the sense in which, according to the constructivist, the distinction between substantive normative ethics and metaethics breaks down. I conclude by distinguishing between two importantly different debates about the mind-dependence of value. I argue that a failure to make this distinction is part of what explains why the possibility of constructivism as a metaethical view is often overlooked.
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References found in this work BETA
Thomas Scanlon (1998). What We Owe to Each Other. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
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J. L. Mackie (1977). Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong. Penguin Books.
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Christine M. Korsgaard (1996). The Sources of Normativity. Cambridge University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Sharon Street (2009). In Defense of Future Tuesday Indifference: Ideally Coherent Eccentrics and the Contingency of What Matters. Philosophical Issues 19 (1):273-298.
Caroline T. Arruda (forthcoming). Why Care About Being An Agent? Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-17.
Sharon Street (2009). Evolution and the Normativity of Epistemic Reasons. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (sup1):213-248.
Hannah Altehenger, Simon Gaus & Andreas Leonhard Menges (2015). Being Realistic About Reflective Equilibrium. Analysis 75 (3):514-522.
Elizabeth Tropman (2014). Evolutionary Debunking Arguments: Moral Realism, Constructivism, and Explaining Moral Knowledge. Philosophical Explorations 17 (2):126-140.
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