Making Sense of Explanatory Objections to Moral Realism

American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (1):37-50 (2013)
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Many commentators suppose that morality, objectively construed, must possess a minimal sort of explanatory relevance if moral realism is to be plausible. To the extent that moral realists are unable to secure explanatory relevance for moral facts, moral realism faces a problem. Call this general objection an “explanatory objection” to moral realism. Despite the prevalence of explanatory objections in the literature, the connection between morality’s explanatory powers and moral realism’s truth is not clear. This paper considers several different reasons for subjecting morality to explanatory scrutiny and concludes that none of them uncover a special or compelling explanatory problem for realism. In light of these difficulties, an alternative account of the connection between moral realism and moral explanation is developed. Not only does this account make sense of explanatory objections to realism, it turns out that realists may have the resources to defend themselves against this explanatory concern, properly understood.



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Elizabeth Tropman
Colorado State University

References found in this work

Truth and Objectivity.Crispin Wright - 1992 - Harvard University Press.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.
A Darwinian dilemma for realist theories of value.Sharon Street - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 127 (1):109-166.
Ethical Intuitionism.Michael Huemer - 2005 - Palgrave Macmillan.
The Scientific Image.Michael Friedman - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (5):274-283.

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