AuthorShepski, III, Stanley John
Committee ChairTimmons, Mark
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractMoral realism, as I conceive it, is the view that there are moral facts that are independent of what any agent, whether hypothetical or actual, thinks about them. I defend moral realism by arguing that we are epistemically justified in accepting it on the basis of our first-personal moral experience, or "moral phenomenology". Moral realists often assert that our moral phenomenology supports their view, but they do not usually explain how. I fill this explanatory gap through careful attention to individual cases and conclude that our moral experience suggests the following: (1) There are objectively correct answers to moral questions; and (2) these answers have normative authority over moral agents. Some forms of moral realism can easily accommodate these two theses, but I argue that selected major competing theories cannot. Specifically, constructivism, expressivism, and naturalist versions of moral realism cannot accommodate these theses.One might question whether we ought to rely on the deliverances of our moral phenomenology, but I argue that we have good reason to trust our moral experience, just as we have good reason to trust our perceptual, mnemonic, and logical experiences. I argue that our moral experience provides defeasible justification for accepting moral realism, and, in response to concerns raised by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (2006), I address potential defeaters of this justification related to partiality, emotion, illusion, and the origins of our moral beliefs.I conclude by responding to two traditional arguments against non-naturalist moral realism: the so-called arguments from disagreement and queerness. I argue that moral realists can explain the existence of moral disagreement as well as irrealists can, and that the argument from queerness either fails or collapses into other forms of argument.I remain neutral on the metaphysical commitments of moral realism, but in so far as many have thought it to depend on some form of platonism, I briefly defend platonism in Appendix A.