Philosophical Studies 175 (1):141-161 (2018)

Brendan Cline
California State University, Channel Islands
While Richard Joyce’s moral skepticism might seem to be an extreme metaethical view, it is actually far more moderate than it might first appear. By articulating four challenges facing his approach to moral skepticism, I argue that Joyce’s moderation is, in fact, a theoretical liability. First, the fact that Joyce is not skeptical about normativity in general makes it possible to develop close approximations to morality, lending support to moderate moral revisionism over moral error theory. Second, Joyce relies on strong, contentious conceptual and empirical claims in support of his views. Third, Joyce’s evolutionary debunking argument threatens to backfire, generalizing to all normative judgments. Finally, Joyce fails to offer an adequate account of the normativity of desire. Each of these four challenges can be either sidestepped or embraced by radicalizing and defending a global form of normative skepticism. There are thus several ways in which global normative skepticism appears to be in a more robust dialectical position than Joyce’s moral skepticism. Furthermore, I argue, Joyce’s arguments against global normative skepticism are unconvincing. While this discussion is framed in terms of Joyce’s work, its arguments will apply to other moral skeptics who are not also global normative skeptics. The result is an invitation for Joyce and other moral skeptics to leave these problems behind and join the radical camp.
Keywords moral error theory  Richard Joyce  moral skepticism  normative skepticism  evolutionary debunking arguments  normative error theory  revisionism  epistemic error theory  practical instrumentalism
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-017-0859-8
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What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
Being Realistic About Reasons.T. M. Scanlon - 2014 - Oxford University Press.

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