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Metaethics after Moore$
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Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199269914

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199269914.001.0001

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Ethics as Philosophy

Ethics as Philosophy

A Defense of Ethical Nonnaturalism

(p.209) 10 Ethics as Philosophy *
Metaethics after Moore

Russ Shafer-Landau

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a partial defence of non-naturalism. It first provides an epistemological criterion for understanding the metaphysical thesis of non-naturalism and then proceeds to mount a defence of the view against two common objections: objections based on facts about ethical disagreement, and on causal criteria for having ontological status. The strategy is to call attention to the close parallel between ethical inquiry and philosophical inquiry generally, and to argue that these parallels provide a basis for rejecting the lines of objection in question and also provide positive reasons to favour non-naturalism over its metaethical rivals. So first, just as disagreement in philosophy itself does not undermine (or should not undermine) thinking that there are objective truths about such matters, neither should disagreement in ethics undermine thinking that there are objective truths, or justified belief in such truths. As for the causal efficacy criterion of ontological status, Shafer–Landau argues that even if moral facts do not possess causal efficacy, we need not be sceptics about their ontological status as objectively real. If one insists on the causal efficacy test, then it looks as if all putative normative facts fail the criterion and are not real. The implausibility of this implication, then, casts doubt on the causal argument against moral facts.

Keywords:   ethical disagreement, causal efficacy, non-naturalism

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