Folk Metaethics: Empirical and Philosophical Perspectives

February 7, 2019
Department of Philosophy, University of Graz

Universitätsstrasse 15
Graz 8010

All speakers:

Australian National University
University of Rijeka
University of Graz
Institute for Advanced Social Studies (IESA-CSIC)
University of Groningen


University of Graz

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Lay persons are often thought to have metaethical intuitions. For example, it may seem to them that certain actions would be impermissible even if one‘s culture dominantly regarded them as permissible, that morality depends on the will of God, or that moral sentences function to express emotions. This workshop addresses research into such intuitions about morality’s philosophical nature.

There is growing consensus that folk metaethics is best studied in an interdisciplinary way. Hence, the workshop will bring together and attempt to promote exchange between both empirical scientists and philosophers. The former will report new data about metaethical intuitions’ content and causes. The latter will help to assess these studies’ validity and their philosophical implications.

Here are some of the questions that the workshop will address: Do lay persons experience morality as objective? What do they think about the meaning of moral sentences? Which variables correlate with and cause metaethical intuitions? How valid are (particular) empirical studies in this area? Do widespread intuitions in favor of a metaethical theory support this theory? If yes, in which way(s)?

In addition, some contributions will also investigate related matters concerning moral disagreement and the evolution of morality. 

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