Moral value, response-dependence, and rigid designation

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36 (1):71-94 (2006)

Abstract

Furthermore, moral facts do seem to bear an intimate relationship to our moral attitudes and capacities. It is perhaps inconceivable that, at the end of moral deliberation and inquiry, fully rational human beings invested with our moral concepts could be radically incorrect in their moral beliefs. Moral properties seem to be essentially knowable. We hope that the fundamental truths of physics are epistemically available to us, but our conception of the physical world certainly does not guarantee it. However implausible, it is certainly conceivable that the cognitive capacities that are our evolutionary inheritance, adapted for survival in the terrestrial niche in which our ancestors found themselves, are not well suited for doing cosmology. Is a similar pessimism about our ability to know the moral facts even coherent? I don’t think so. No matter how difficult it is to arrive at correct moral judgments, barring ignorance of any relevant non-moral empirical facts, the moral facts are by their very nature within our reach. And it is difficult to see how this could be so unless moral properties are in some way dependent on us.

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Brad Thompson
Southern Methodist University

References found in this work

Moral Realism.Peter Railton - 1986 - Philosophical Review 95 (2):163-207.
Dispositional Theories of Value.Michael Smith, David Lewis & Mark Johnston - 1989 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 63 (1):89-174.
Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong.Fred Feldman & J. L. Mackie - 1979 - Philosophical Review 88 (1):134.

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Citations of this work

Practices and the Direct Perception of Normative States: Part I.Julie Zahle - 2013 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 43 (4):493-518.

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