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Monday, March 2, 2015

Moral Realism

Sayre-McCord, Geoff, "Moral Realism"
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)

Here is an excerpt:

Nonetheless, realists and anti-realists alike are usually inclined to hold that Moore’s Open Question Argument is getting at something important—some feature of moral claims that makes them not well captured by nonmoral claims.

According to some, that ‘something important’ is that moral claims are essentially bound up with motivation in a way that nonmoral claims are not (Ayer 1936, Stevenson 1937, Gibbard 1990, Blackburn 1993). Exactly what the connection to motivation is supposed to be is itself controversial, but one common proposal (motivation internalism) is that a person counts as sincerely making a moral claim only if she is motivated appropriately. To think of something that it is good, for instance, goes with being, other things equal, in favor of it in ways that would provide some motivation (not necessarily decisive) to promote, produce, preserve or in other ways support it. If someone utterly lacks such motivations and yet claims nonetheless that she thinks the thing in question is good, there is reason, people note, to suspect either that she is being disingenuous or that she does not understand what she is saying. This marks a real contrast with nonmoral claims since the fact that a person makes some such claim sincerely seems never to entail anything in particular about her motivations. Whether she is attracted by, repelled by, or simply indifferent to some color is irrelevant to whether her claim that things have that color are sincere and well understood by her.

The entire entry is here.

Editor's Note: This article is for those psychologists more inclined to read philosophy.