Disagreement: Ethics and Elsewhere

Erkenntnis 79 (S1):55-72 (2014)

Authors
Folke Tersman
Uppsala University
Abstract
According to a traditional argument against moral realism, the existence of objective moral facts is hard to reconcile with the existence of radical disagreement over moral issues. An increasingly popular response to this argument is to insist that it generalizes too easily. Thus, it has been argued that if one rejects moral realism on the basis of disagreement then one is committed to similar views about epistemology and meta-ethics itself, since the disagreements that arise in those areas are just as deep as the moral ones. This in turn is taken to show that a moral anti-realist should seek another basis for her position. For, if she extends her anti-realism also to epistemology and meta-ethics, then she is no longer in a position to say that her meta-ethical position is (objectively) true or that it is a fact that we have reason to accept it. She therefore seems left with a position that hardly even seems to be a position. The purpose of the paper is to challenge this response and in particular the claim that the argument from disagreement applies equally well to epistemology and meta-ethics as it does to ethics. It is argued that, despite contrary appearances, there are crucial differences between the disagreements that occur in ethics compared to those that arise in the other areas. Moreover, even granted that the disagreements are just as deep, there are other differences between the areas that nevertheless justify drawing different conclusions about their status from the existence of those disagreements
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-013-9445-4
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On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
Truth and Objectivity.Crispin Wright - 1992 - Harvard University Press.

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