Pragmatism and the 'Problem with Ethics'
Andrew Sepielli (University of Toronto), Andrew Sepielli (University of Toronto at Mississauga)

March 24, 2016, 12:15pm - 2:15pm
Department of Philosophy, University of Melbourne

G16 (Jim Potter Room)
Old Physics Building

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Abstract: This paper is part of a larger project in "therapeutic metaethics" -- i.e. metaethics done with the aim of helping us to overcome socio-psychological maladies like nihilism, anomie, disenchantment, and so on. Ethics differs from paradigmatically factual domains of inquiry in ways that prompt some people to label it as "not objective" or to say that there's a "problem with ethics". Moral realists have tended to offer explanations of these differences which do not fully account for them. Non-cognitivists and especially error theorists do a better job -- though by no means a perfect job -- of explaining these differences, but their views are objectionable both on theoretical grounds and on the ground that accepting them creates a hospitable climate for nihilism, anomie, and the rest. In this paper, I offer a pragmatist explanation of some manifest differences between ethics and paradigmatically factual domains, acceptance of which is less conducive to nihilism, etc.

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