Category Archives: Metaethics

Matt Bedke and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Matt Bedke (left) and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (right) on ethical intuitions.

Bedke and Sinnott-Armstrong consider the extent to which we can justifiably trust our ethical intuitions. They discuss the analogy between ethical intuitions and color perceptions (2:55), a potential difference between ethical intuitions and non-ethical philosophical intuitions (19:45), Sinnott-Armstrong’s work on framing effects (27:11), and Bedke’s critique of non-naturalist ethical intuitionism (60:44), among other topics.

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Filed under Epistemology, Metaethics, Moral psychology

David Enoch and Mark Schroeder

David Enoch (left) and Mark Schroeder (right) on moral realism.

Enoch and Schroeder are moral realists of different kinds: Schroeder defends a form of naturalist reductionism, while Enoch defends a form of Moorean non-naturalism. In this conversation, they compare their two brands of realism, discuss their shared opposition to error theories and expressivism, and address a few of the standard objections to realism. Then (at 53:40) they reveal their answers to a question that should be disturbing to any realist: If it turns out that realism is false, what would you believe instead?

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Filed under Metaethics

Roger Crisp and Daniel Star

Roger Crisp (left) and Daniel Star (right) on normative reasons.

Reasons for action occupy an increasingly central place in recent moral philosophy. Why? Crisp and Star address that question, and provide a handy taxonomy of different kinds of reasons, before they turn to two interrelated issues. First, they discuss the prospects for an analysis of reasons. Star offers an analysis in terms of evidence: a reason to φ is evidence that one ought to φ. Then (at 42:55) they discuss the buck-passing account of goodness — the view that reasons are provided by features of an object that make the object good, but not by its goodness itself — and Crisp explains why he finds fault with that account.

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Filed under Metaethics, Moral psychology

Jason Brennan and Neil Sinhababu

Jason Brennan (left) and Neil Sinhababu (right) on political liberties and hedonism.

In this episode, Brennan and Sinhababu air two different arguments on two different topics. First, Brennan argues, contrary to a widely held view, that a given individual’s political liberties should not be considered valuable for that individual: he contends that political liberties do not achieve the ends that would give them such value. Then (starting at 35:21) Sinhababu presents his argument in favor of universal hedonism: he contends that emotional perception (which often seems contrary to hedonism) is unreliable, whereas phenomenal introspection (which he thinks supports hedonism) is reliable.

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Filed under Metaethics, Moral psychology, Political Philosophy, Value Theory

Andy Egan and Joshua Knobe

Joshua Knobe (left) and Andy Egan (right) on moral relativism.

Knobe explains his surprising research suggesting that folk intuitions are more closely aligned with relativism than philosophers often assume. Egan describes his ongoing work on relativist semantics. Knobe presses Egan on whether Egan’s views provide a satisfactory account of moral disagreement and of the grounds for criticism of an ideally coherent sadist. Along the way, they discuss whether philosophical analysis of shared concepts ought to be “hermeneutic” or “revolutionary.”

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Filed under Metaethics, Methodology, Philosophy of Language, x-phi

Jamie Dreier and Mark Schroeder

Jamie Dreier (left) and Mark Schroeder (right) on metaethical contextualism, expressivism, and relativism.

Why are we motivated to do what we believe to be morally right? Relativism, contextualism, and expressivism provide straightforward answers to that question. But each of these views must face its own distinctive challenges. Dreier and Schroeder provide a guided tour of those challenges with a focus on problems arising from competing accounts of moral truth and moral disagreement. They finish by addressing a meta-metaethical question: Are disagreements between rival metaethicists substantive?

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Filed under Metaethics