Our project in this essay is to showcase nonnaturalistic moral realism’s resources for responding to metaphysical and epistemological objections by taking the view in some new directions. The central thesis we will argue for is that there is a battery of substantive moral propositions that are also nonnaturalistic conceptual truths. We call these propositions the moral fixed points. We will argue that they must find a place in any system of moral norms that applies to beings like us, in worlds (...) similar to our own. By committing themselves to true propositions of these sorts, nonnaturalists can fashion a view that is highly attractive in its own right, and resistant to the most prominent objections that have been pressed against it. (shrink)
Moral realism of a paradigmatic sort -- Defending the parallel -- The parity premise -- Epistemic nihilism -- Epistemic expressivism : traditional views -- Epistemic expressivism : nontraditional views -- Epistemic reductionism -- Three objections to the core argument.
In this excellent, clearly written, and clear sighted book, Terence Cuneo defends moral realism from a variety of different attacks. Cuneo is particularly interested in the charge that the moral facts that realists posit are suspect because they are unnatural and queer. He addresses a number of arguments against realism, not least Mackie's Argument from Queerness. What makes the book distinctive is its strategy. Cuneo is keen to show that moral facts and epistemic facts are very similar, if not inseparably (...) intertwined in many cases, and to argue that we should not find moral realism odd since we do not find epistemic realism odd. Indeed, towards the start he begins with a number of quotations from those who have cast doubt on moral realism, including Mackie, who themselves point out that there could be parallels between the moral and epistemic cases, but who do not pursue those parallels to any great degree. Cuneo aims to fill this gap, and to do so in favour of the realist. I agree entirely with Cuneo's conclusions and …. (shrink)
Central to the lives of the religiously committed are not simply religious convictions but also religious practices. The religiously committed, for example, regularly assemble to engage in religious rites, including corporate liturgical worship. Although the participation in liturgy is central to the religious lives of many, few philosophers have given it attention. In this collection of essays, Terence Cuneo turns his attention to liturgy, contending that the topic proves itself to be philosophically rich and rewarding. Taking the liturgical practices of (...) Eastern Christianity as its focal point, Ritualized Faith examines issues such as what the ethical importance of ritualized religious activities might be, what it is to immerse oneself in such activities, and what the significance of liturgical singing and iconography are. In doing so, Cuneo makes sense of these liturgical practices and indicates why they deserve a place in the religiously committed life. (shrink)
We argue that contrary to received wisdom, non-naturalist moral realism has an advantage over its naturalist rivals with respect to at least one thorny problem in moral epistemology. We call this problem 'the projectability challenge'. It is the challenge of explaining how it is possible for individuals to apply their moral knowledge to a variety of kinds of new (to them) cases and also how it is possible for individuals to learn from moral experience. By developing an account of and (...) carefully examining what we take to be the underlying metaphysics and psychology behind traditional moral non-naturalism, we show that the non-naturalist is able to meet the projectability challenge. While we do not claim to show that the naturalist cannot meet the projectability challenge, we argue that it will be difficult for them to do so. (shrink)
Terence Cuneo presents a new argument for moral realism. According to the normative theory of speech, speech acts are generated by an agent's altering her normative position with regard to her audience. In doing so she takes on rights and responsibilities, some of which are moral and objective: these are a necessary condition of speech.
Thomas Reid's Essays on the Active Powers presents what is probably the most thoroughly developed version of agent-causal libertarianism in the modern canon. While commentators today often acknowledge Reid's contribution, they typically focus on what appears to be a serious problem for the view: Reid appears to commit himself to a position according to which acting freely would require an agent to engage in an infinite number of exertions of active power. In this essay, we maintain that, properly understood, Reid's (...) version of agent-causal libertarianism generates no regress of exertion. Our discussion begins by presenting Reid's account of free action and why it appears vulnerable to a worrisome regress. We then consider three attempts to address the regress in the contemporary literature offered by William Rowe, Gideon Yaffe, and James Van Cleve, which we find unsatisfactory. We then develop a solution to the worry—one that takes very seriously both what Reid means by an ‘efficient’ cause and his appeal to normative features when explaining action. We call it the ‘networked capacity’ view. (shrink)
In his fine book The Wisdom to Doubt, J. L. Schellenberg builds a case for religious scepticism by advancing a version of the Hiddenness Argument. This argument rests on the claim that God could not love, in an admirable way, those who seek God while also remaining hidden from them. In this article, I distinguish two arguments for this claim. Neither argument succeeds, I contend, as each rests on an unsatisfactory understanding of the nature of admirable love, whether human or (...) divine. (shrink)
The overarching aim of this essay is to argue that moral realists should be "causalists" or claim that moral facts of certain kinds are causally efficacious. To this end, I engage in two tasks. The first is to develop an account of the sense in which moral facts of certain kinds are causally efficacious. After having sketched the concept of what I call a "configuring" cause, I contend that the exercise of the moral virtues is plausibly viewed as a configuring (...) cause. The second is to show that the causalist position I develop can withstand objections inspired by the work of Robert Audi and Jaegwon Kim. (shrink)
It is a common antirealist strategy to reject realism about some domain of entities for broadly epistemological reasons. When this strategy is applied to realism about moral facts, it takes something like the following form.
In his recent book, The Moral Problem , Michael Smith presents a number of arguments designed to expose the difficulties with so-called 'extcrnalist' theories of motivation. This essay endeavors to defend externalism from Smith's attacks. I attempt three tasks in the essay. First, I try to clarify and reformulate Smith's distinction between internalism and externalism. Second, I formulate two of Smith's arguments- what I call the 'reliability argument' and 'the rationalist argument' -and attempt to show that these arguments fail to (...) damage externalism. Third, I undertake to expose and question some of the motivations that drive internalism. (shrink)
A substantial collection of seminal articles, Foundations of Ethics covers all of the major issues in metaethics. Covers all of the major issues in metaethics including moral metaphysics, epistemology, moral psychology, and philosophy of language. Provides an unparalleled offering of primary sources and expert commentary for students of ethical theory. Includes seminal essays by ethicists such as G.E. Moore, Simon Blackburn, Gilbert Harman, Christine Korsgaard, Michael Smith, Bernard Williams, Jonathan Dancy, and many other leading figures of ethical theory.
The central purpose of this essay is to consider some of the more prominent reasons why realists have rejected the Humean theory of motivation. I shall argue that these reasons are not persuasive, and that there is nothing about being a moral realist that should make us suspicious of Humeanism.
In his recent book, The Moral Problem, Michael Smith presents a number of arguments designed to expose the difficulties with so-called `externalist' theories of motivation. This essay endeavors to defend externalism from Smith's attacks. I attempt three tasks in the essay. First, I try to clarify and reformulate Smith's distinction between internalism and externalism. Second, I formulate two of Smith's arguments-what I call the `reliability argument' and `the rationalist argument'-and attempt to show that these arguments fail to damage externalism. Third, (...) I undertake to expose and question some of the motivations that drive internalism. (shrink)
Most work in religious epistemology has concerned itself with propositional knowledge of God. In this essay, I explore the role of knowing how to engage God in the religious life. Specifically, I explore the role of knowing how to engage God in the context of ritualized liturgical activity, exploring the contribution that knowing how to perform liturgical rites of various sorts can make to knowing God. The thesis I defend is that the liturgy provides both activities of certain kinds and (...) conceptions of God such that knowing how to perform those activities under those conceptions is a species of what I call ritual knowledge. (shrink)
Widely acknowledged as the principal architect of Scottish common sense philosophy, Thomas Reid is increasingly recognized today as one of the finest philosophers of the eighteenth century. Combining a sophisticated response to the skeptical and idealist views of his day, Reid's thought stands as an important alternative to Humean skepticism, Kantian idealism and Cartesian rationalism. This volume is the first comprehensive overview of Reid's output and covers not only his philosophy in detail, but also his scientific work and his extensive (...) historical influence. (shrink)
Hume bequeathed to rational intuitionists a problem concerning moral judgment and the will – a problem of sufficient severity that it is still cited as one of the major reasons why intuitionism is untenable.1 Stated in general terms, the problem concerns how an intuitionist moral theory can account for the intimate connection between moral judgment and moral motivation. One reason that this is still considered to be a problem for intuitionists is that it is widely assumed that the early intuitionists (...) made little progress towards solving it. In this essay, I wish to challenge this assumption by examining one of the more subtle intuitionist responses to Hume, viz., that offered by Thomas Reid. For reasons that remain unclear to me, Reid's response to Hume on this issue has been almost entirely neglected. I shall argue that it is nonetheless one that merits our attention, for at least two reasons. In the first place, Reid's response to Hume's challenge to rational intuitionism bears a close affinity to the type of response that he offers to Hume's broadly skeptical challenge to realist views regarding our perception of the external world. Since Reid's strategy in the latter case is widely regarded as exhibiting significant promise, it is natural to wonder whether, when applied to the moral domain, this type of strategy displays similar promise.2 I will suggest that it does. That is, I will suggest that since Reid's broadly nativist position in perception is one well worth considering, then so also is his broadly nativist account of moral motivation. Second, Reid's position regarding moral motivation represents an intriguing attempt to blend a broadly intuitionist view with important insights from the sentimentalist tradition. In this respect, Reid's view is a genuine hybrid position unlike that offered by other intuitionists such as Richard Price. The synthetic character of Reid's position, I claim, gives it a unique type of theoretical richness, since it incorporates some very attractive features of both rational intuitionism and sentimentalism. (shrink)
Quasi-realist expressivists set themselves the task of developing a metaethical theory that at once captures what they call the “realist-sounding” elements of ordinary moral thought and discourse but is also distinctively antirealist. Its critics have long suspected that the position cannot have what it wants. In this essay, I develop this suspicion. I do so by distinguishing two paradigmatic versions of the view—what I call Thin and Thick expressivism respectively. I contend that there is a metaethical datum regarding our epistemic (...) achievements in the moral domain that presents challenges for each variety of expressivism. Thin expressivism opts not to accommodate and explain this datum but I contend that its rationale for not doing so rests on a suspect methodology. Thick expressivism looks as if it must accommodate and explain this datum but I argue that it is poorly situated to do so. I conclude that we have reason to believe that paradigmatic expressivism cannot have all that it wants. (shrink)
Christine Korsgaard’s 1996 book, The Sources of Normativity, attracted a great deal of attention. And rightly so. It is a highly engaging attempt to answer what she calls the normative question, which is the question of what could justify morality’s demands. Korsgaard’s latest book, Self-Constitution, develops and defends the broadly Kantian account of action and agency that hovers in the background of Sources, drawing out its implications for the normative question. In this review, we present the main lines of argument (...) in Self-Constitution, raising objections to both Korsgaard’s account of action and agency and her most recent attempt to address the normative question. (shrink)
The project of this chapter is to examine how two key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment—Francis Hutcheson and Thomas Reid—think of the role of reason and passion in moral judgment. According to a standard way of categorizing these figures, Hutcheson is a sentimentalist, while Reid is a rationalist. Although this categorization can be illuminating in certain respects, it also distorts both Hutcheson’s and Reid’s views. For a close reading of both these men reveals that their views are more eclectic than (...) many have supposed. Hutcheson’s views have much more in common with the rationalists while Reid’s views have much more in common with the sentimentalists. (shrink)
Everyone is talking about food. Chefs are celebrities. "Locavore" and "freegan" have earned spots in the dictionary. Popular books and films about food production and consumption are exposing the unintended consequences of the standard American diet. Questions about the principles and values that ought to guide decisions about dinner have become urgent for moral, ecological, and health-related reasons. In _Philosophy Comes to Dinner_, twelve philosophers—some leading voices, some inspiring new ones—join the conversation, and consider issues ranging from the sustainability of (...) modern agriculture, to consumer complicity in animal exploitation, to the pros and cons of alternative diets. (shrink)
Hume bequeathed to rational intuitionists a problem concerning moral judgment and the will – a problem of sufficient severity that it is still cited as one of the major reasons why intuitionism is untenable. 1 Stated in general terms, the problem concerns how an intuitionist moral theory can account for the intimate connection between moral judgment and moral motivation. One reason that this is still considered to be a problem for intuitionists is that it is widely assumed that the early (...) intuitionists made little progress towards solving it. In this essay, I wish to challenge this assumption by examining one of the more subtle intuitionist responses to Hume, viz., that offered by Thomas Reid. For reasons that remain unclear to me, Reid's response to Hume on this issue has been almost entirely neglected. I shall argue that it is nonetheless one that merits our attention, for at least two reasons. In the first place, Reid's response to Hume's challenge to rational intuitionism bears a close affinity to the type of response that he offers to Hume's broadly skeptical challenge to realist views regarding our perception of the external world. Since Reid's strategy in the latter case is widely regarded as exhibiting significant promise, it is natural to wonder whether, when applied to the moral domain, this type of strategy displays similar promise. 2 I will suggest that it does. That is, I will suggest that since Reid's broadly nativist position in perception is one well worth considering, then so also is his broadly nativist account of moral motivation. Second, Reid's position regarding moral motivation represents an intriguing attempt to blend a broadly intuitionist view with important insights from the sentimentalist tradition. In this respect, Reid's view is a genuine hybrid position unlike that offered by other intuitionists such as Richard Price. The synthetic character of Reid's position, I claim, gives it a unique type of theoretical richness, since it incorporates some very attractive features of both rational intuitionism and sentimentalism. (shrink)
This is an essay on two topics—singing and liturgy—that lie well outside the standard repertoire of topics that form the subject matter of contemporary philosophy of religion, let alone Anglo-American philosophy more generally. Nonetheless, I maintain that thinking through the topic of liturgical singing can bear philosophical fruit. My discussion takes as its starting point the striking fact that the liturgies of Eastern Christianity are almost entirely sung. I explore the question why this would be especially fitting. The answer I (...) offer draws upon recent work in philosophy of literature, collective action, and musical cognition, arguing that what I call the secondary form of the liturgy and its content mesh in such a way that, when an assembly sings the content of the liturgical script, it thereby instantiates important dimensions of its content. (shrink)
This essay is in the philosophy of Christian liturgy. Specifically, it explores the liturgical practice, at home in the Eastern Orthodox Church, of venerating icons, asking: What is it about the liturgical role of icons that would make behavior such as touching and kissing them appropriate? After arguing that the standard answers to this question offered by Western and Eastern Christians are inadequate, I develop an account according to which the icons are instruments of divine action. More exactly, I claim (...) that they are vehicles of divine discourse. The behavior exhibited toward icons on the part of Eastern Christians, I maintain, makes excellent sense on the assumption that they are responses to speech acts performed by God by way of God’s appropriating the art of the church. (shrink)
G.E. Moore's philosophical legacy is ambiguous. On the one hand, Moore has a special place in the hearts of many contemporary analytic philosophers. He is, after all, one of the fathers of the movement, his broadly commonsensical methodology informing how many contemporary analytic philosophers practise their craft. On the other hand, many contemporary philosophers keep Moore's own substantive positions at arm's distance. According to many epistemologists, one can find no finer example of how to beg the question than Moore's case (...) against the sceptic. And, according to many moral philosophers, one can find no more vivid case of philosophical extravagance than Moore's non-naturalism. Given this ambiguity, one wonders: How should we assess Moore's legacy in epistemology and ethics – the two areas of philosophy in which Moore did most of his work?That is the task of this welcome collection of 16 essays. The list of contributors to the book is impressive: Crispin Wright, Ernest Sosa, Ram Neta, William Lycan, C.A.J. Cody, Paul Snowdon, Michael Huemer and Roy Sorenson consider Moore's work in epistemology. Stephen Darwall, Terry Horgan, Mark Timmons, Richard Fumerton, Charles Pigden, Robert Shaver, Joshua Gert, Jonathan Dancy and the editors of the book explore Moore's views in ethics. As one might expect, given this list of contributors, the quality of the essays is very high. Moreover, there is a decidedly constructive tone to many of them. While not willing to overlook Moore's mistakes, many of the essays endeavour to explore what is valuable in Moore's thought, critically engaging with positions that, not too long …. (shrink)