This paper surveys some ways of distinguishing Quasi-Realism in metaethics from Non-naturalist Realism, including ‘Explanationist’ methods of distinguishing, which characterize the Real by its explanatory role, and Inferentialist methods. Rather than seeking the One True Distinction, the paper adopts an irenic and pragmatist perspective, allowing that different ways of drawing the line are best for different purposes.
The paper describes the problem for robust moral realism of explaining the supervenience of the moral on the non-moral, and examines five objections to the argument: The moral does not supervene on the descriptive, because we may owe different obligations to duplicates. If the supervenience thesis is repaired to block, it becomes trivial and easy to explain. Supervenience is a moral doctrine and should get an explanation from within normative ethics rather than metaethics. Supervenience is a conceptual truth and should (...) be explained by the nature of our concepts rather than by a metaphysical theory. The moral does not supervene on the descriptive, because moral principles are not metaphysically necessary. It concludes that none of these objections is successful, so Robust Realists do have an explanatory debt to worry about. (shrink)
Amie Thomasson's Norms and Necessity offers a non-factualist theory of the language of metaphysical necessity, centering on the idea that statements of necessity express semantic norms. This article identifies a potential problem for the view by distinguishing two kinds of conditional necessity, investigates a solution derived from a well-known parallel pair of conditional necessities in deontic logic, but finds it is not up to the job. The last part of the paper suggests a different route, largely in keeping with the (...) underlying ideas behind Thomasson's approach. (shrink)
This chapter discusses whether Quasi-Realism gains any advantage over Robust Realism with respect to the problem of explaining supervenience. The chapter starts with a summary of what the supervenience problem is and recounts the history of expressivist thinking about supervenience: the supervenience problem was a challenge raised by expressivist Robust Realists, with the idea that expressivism had an excellent explanation of the phenomenon and realism had none. The chapter then contrasts Quasi-Realism and Robust Realism in order to bring the big (...) problem out in the open, namely that Quasi-Realists have not provided any explanation at all for the phenomenon of supervenience. In this respect they are, it appears, in the same boat as Robust Realists. The chapter maps out the possible paths for Quasi-Realists to travel in pursuit of Quasi-Explananda, and gives some reasons to be optimistic. The chapter ends with a suggestive analogy and a synopsis of the state of the dialectic. (shrink)
The consequentializing project relies on agentcentered value (aka agent-relative value), but many philosophers find the idea incomprehensible or incoherent. Discussions of agent-centered value often model it with a theory that assigns distinct better-than rankings of states of affairs to each agent, rather than assigning a single ranking common to all. A less popular kind of model uses a single ranking, but takes the value-bearing objects to be properties (sets of centered worlds) rather than states of affairs (sets of worlds). There (...) are rhetorical, presentational differences between these kinds of models, but are there also structural differences? Do the two kinds of models differ in their capacity to represent normative theories? Despite an initial appearance of equivalence, the two kinds of models are different. The single ranking of properties has greater representational power; its representations contain more information. The main question I address in this article is whether this extra information is useful, in the sense that it distinguishes between normative views that we think are really different, or whether it is just junk information. (shrink)
The chapter argues that we should draw the line between realist and antirealist metaethics according to whether a theory locates the explanation for the special, puzzling features of moral terms and concepts out in the world, with the content of moral thoughts, or inside the head. This taxonomy places Mackie's error theory in the realist category, contrary to the usual scheme. The paper suggests that in looking for the “queerness” of objective value in the metaphysics of moral properties, Mackie makes (...) a mistake parallel to a fantastic mistake made by some of the characters in E. B. White's Charlotte's Web. (shrink)