We typically assume that the standard for what is beautiful lies in the eye of the beholder. Yet this is not the case when we consider morality; what we deem morally good is not usually a matter of opinion. Such thoughts push us toward being realists about moral properties, but a cogent theory of moral realism has long been an elusive philosophical goal. Paul Bloomfield here offers a rigorous defense of moral realism, developing an ontology for morality that models the (...) property of being morally good on the property of being physically healthy. The model is assembled systematically; it first presents the metaphysics of healthiness and goodness, then explains our epistemic access to properties such as these, adds a complementary analysis of the semantics and syntax of moral discourse, and finishes with a discussion of how we become motivated to act morally. Bloomfield closely attends to the traditional challenges facing moral realism, and the discussion nimbly ranges from modern medical theory to ancient theories of virtue, and from animal navigation to the nature of normativity. Maintaining a highly readable style throughout, Moral Reality yields one of the most compelling theories of moral realism to date and will appeal to philosophers working on issues in metaphysics or moral philosophy. (shrink)
A basic challenge to naturalistic moral realism is that, even if moral properties existed, there would be no way to naturalistically represent or track them. Here, the basic structure for a tracking account of moral epistemology is given in empirically respectable terms, based on a eudaimonist conception of morality. The goal is to show how this form of moral realism can be seen as consistent with the details of evolutionary biology as well as being amenable to the most current understanding (...) of representationalist or correspondence theories of truth. (shrink)
Undeniably, life is unfair. So, why play fairly in an unfair world? The answer comes from combining the ancient Greek conception of happiness with a modern conception of self-respect. The book is about why it is bad to be bad and good to be good, and what happens in between.
The ancient Greeks almost universally accepted the thesis that virtues are skills. Skills have an underlying intellectual structure , and having a particular skill entails understanding the relevant logos. possessing a general ability to diagnose and solve problems . as well as having appropriate experience. Two implications of accepting this thesis for moral epistemology and epistemology in general are considered. Thinking of virtues as skills yields a viable virtue epistemology in which moral knowledge is a species of a general kind (...) of knowledge that is not philosophically suspect. Also, the debate between internalists and externalists in epistemology is subversively resolved as moot by adopting this strategy: the locus of justification for a belief is in the nature of skill. Thus, the contingent fact that some skills allow Homo Sapiens an ‘internal access’. while others do not, is theoretically neutral when considering the nature of justification per se. (shrink)
A distinction is made between acting hypocritically and the character trait of being a hypocrite. The former is understood as resulting from the employment of a double standard in order to obtain a wrongful advantage, while a particular problem with the latter is that hypocrites do not give trustworthy testimony.
Error theories about morality often take as their starting point the supposed queerness of morality, and those resisting these arguments often try to argue by analogy that morality is no more queer than other unproblematic subject matters. Here, error theory (as exemplified primarily by the work of Richard Joyce) is resisted first by arguing that it assumes a common, modern, and peculiarly social conception of morality. Then error theorists point out that the social nature of morality requires one to act (...) against one's self-interest while insisting on the categorical, inescapable, or overriding status of moral considerations: they argue that morality requires magic, then (rightly) claim that there is no such thing as magic. An alternate eudaimonist conception of morality is introduced which itself has an older provenance than the social point of view, dating to the ancient Greeks. Eudaimonism answers to the normative requirements of morality, yet does not require magic. Thus, the initial motivation for error theory is removed. (shrink)
The ancient Greeks almost universally accepted the thesis that virtues are skills. Skills have an underlying intellectual structure, and having a particular skill entails understanding the relevant logos, possessing a general ability to diagnose and solve problems, as well as having appropriate experience. Two implications of accepting this thesis for moral epistemology and epistemology in general are considered. Thinking of virtues as skills yields a viable virtue epistemology in which moral knowledge is a species of a general kind of knowledge (...) that is not philosophically suspect. Also, the debate between internalists and externalists in epistemology is subversively resolved as moot by adopting this strategy: the locus of justification for a belief is in the nature of skill. Thus, the contingent fact that some skills allow Homo Sapiens an `internal access', while others do not, is theoretically neutral when considering the nature of justification per se. (shrink)
The idea of epistemic temperance is introduced and explicated through a discussion of Plato's understanding of it. A variety of psychological and epistemic phenomena are presented which arise due to epistemic intemperance, or the inappropriate influence of conations on cognition. Two cases familiar to philosophers, self-deception and racial prejudice, are discussed as the result of epistemic intemperance though they are not typically seen as having a common cause. Finally, epistemic temperance is distinguished from epistemic justice, as these have been conflated.
An argument for the eponymous conclusion is given through a series of hypothetical syllogisms, the most basic of which is as follows: morality is necessary for self-respect; self-respect is necessary for happiness; therefore, morality is necessary for happiness. Some of the most obvious objections are entertained and rejected.
Miller's reply to Nelson misses the point because it does not attend to the difference between identifying the truth conditions for a proposition and explaining why those conditions are the ones in which the proposition is true.
A central problem in moral theory is how it is to be defended against those who think that there is no harm in being immoral, and that immorality can be in one's self-interest, assuming the perpetrator is not caught and punished. The argument presented here defends the idea that being immoral prevents one from having self-respect. If it makes sense to think that one cannot be happy without self-respect, then the conclusion follows that one cannot be both immoral and happy. (...) Immorality is harmful because its self-disrespecting nature keeps immoralists from being happy. This is the harm of immorality. (shrink)
The question “Why is it bad to be bad?” might seem either tautologous or poorly formed. It may seem like a tautology because it seems logical to think that badness is necessarily bad and so it must, of course, follow that it is bad to be bad. It might seem to be malformed because it may seem like anyone who asks the question, “Why is it bad to be bad?” must fail to understand the meaning of the words they are (...) using: generally, if something is X, it cannot fail to be X. If so, then it may seem as if there must be something wrong with the question itself or with the linguistic abilities of the person asking it. The inclusion of “all things considered” is crucial. Some think that there is a problem with the idea of an all-things-considered point of view since it seems to them that the plurality of values one attempts to bring together in a single perspective may be incommensurable, so there is a problem in the idea of engaging such a perspective. (shrink)