Disagreement, Anti-Realism About Reasons, and Inference to the Best Explanation
25 Pages Posted:
Date Written: August 6, 2018
I revisit, refine and defend an inference to the best explanation (IBE) argument for anti-realism about reasons for acting based on the history of intractable disagreement in moral philosophy. The four key premises of the argument are: 1. If there were objective reasons for action, epistemically-well-situated observers would eventually converge upon them after two thousand years; 2. Contemporary philosophers, as the beneficiaries of two thousand years of philosophy, are epistemically well-situated observers; 3. Contemporary philosophers have not converged upon reasons for action; 4. Conclusion: there are no objective reasons for action (IBE from the first three premises). The key premises of the IBE are (1) sentimentalism; (2) non-cognitivism about basic affects; and (3) philosophical arguments for what our reasons for action are always involve arguments that depend on a basic intuitive moral judgment (that can be explained in terms of a basic non-cognitive affect). All these premises are explored in detail, and various objections addressed.
Keywords: inference to the best explanation, anti-realism, metaethics, reasons, consilience, conservativism, simplicity, deontology, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, duality of practical reason, Nietzsche, Parfit, Enoch
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