Mary Leng
University of York
What should a Quinean naturalist say about moral and mathematical truth? If Quine’s naturalism is understood as the view that we should look to natural science as the ultimate ‘arbiter of truth’, this leads rather quickly to what Huw Price has called ‘placement problems’ of placing moral and mathematical truth in an empirical scientific world-view. Against this understanding of the demands of naturalism, I argue that a proper understanding of the reasons Quine gives for privileging ‘natural science’ as authoritative when it comes to questions of truth and existence also apply to other stable and considered elements of our inherited world-view, including, arguably, our firmly held mathematical and moral beliefs. If so, then the ‘thin’ mathematical and moral realisms of Penelope Maddy and T. M. Scanlon, respectively, are vindicated. We do not need to shoehorn mathematical and moral truths into the pushings and pullings of our empirical scientific world-view; for the busy sailor adrift on Neurath’s boat, mathematical and moral truths already have their place.
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DOI 10.1093/arisoc/aow014
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References found in this work BETA

Being Realistic About Reasons.T. M. Scanlon - 2014 - Oxford University Press.

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The Ethics–Mathematics Analogy.Justin Clarke-Doane - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (1).

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