Nature and Morals: Solving the Riddle of Spinoza's Metaethics
Forthcoming in the Revue philosophique de la France et de l’Etranger
11 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2015
Date Written: September 13, 2015
In this paper I attempt to solve the apparent inconsistency between expressivism and cognitivism in Spinoza’s metaethics by appealing to Spinoza’s naturalistic approach. According to Spinoza, good and evil are neither properties of the world, nor entities independent of individual appetite. Indeed, it is the very activity of one’s conatus that defines as good and evil certain events. But, insofar as each conative state has a correspondent cognitive state, each evaluative judgment is both an expression of one’s conatus and a cognitive statement. Spinoza can be both expressivist and cognitivist because the reality of moral facts depends on one’s conatus, but these moral facts can, nevertheless, be either adequate and true, or inadequate and false.
Keywords: Metaethics, Spinoza, Naturalism
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