Moral Realism

Moral realism is the meta-ethical view which claims that:

  1. Ethical sentences express propositions.
  2. Some such propositions are true.
  3. Those propositions are made true by objective features of the world, independent of subjective opinion.

This makes moral realism a non-nihilist form of cognitivism. Moral realism stands in opposition to all forms of moral anti-realism, including ethical subjectivism (which denies that moral propositions refer to objective facts), error theory (which denies that any moral propositions are true), and non-cognitivism (which denies that moral sentences express propositions at all). Within moral realism, the two main subdivisions are ethical naturalism and ethical non-naturalism.

According to Richard Boyd, moral realism means that:

  1. Moral statements are the sorts of statements which are (or which express propositions which are) true or false (or approximately true, largely false, etc.);
  2. The truth or falsity (approximate truth...) of moral statements is largely independent of our moral opinions, theories, etc.;
  3. Ordinary canons of moral reasoning—together with ordinary canons of scientific and everyday factual reasoning—constitute, under many circumstances at least, a reliable method for obtaining and improving (approximate) moral knowledge.

One study found that most philosophers today accept or lean towards moral realism, as do most meta-ethicists, and twice as many philosophers accept or lean towards moral realism as accept or lean towards moral anti-realism. Some examples of robust moral realists include David Brink, John McDowell, Peter Railton, Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, Michael Smith, Terence Cuneo, Russ Shafer-Landau, G.E. Moore, John Finnis, Richard Boyd, Nicholas Sturgeon, Thomas Nagel, and Plato. Norman Geras has argued that Karl Marx was a moral realist.

Read more about Moral Realism:  Robust Versus Minimal Moral Realism, Science and Moral Realism, Advantages, Criticisms

Other articles related to "moral realism, moral, realism":

Cornell Realism - Moral Realism
... There are suitably mind-independent and therefore objective moral facts that moral judgments are in the business of describing ... This combines a cognitivist view about moral judgments (they are belief-like mental states in the business of describing the way the world is), a view about the ... This contrasts with expressivist theories of moral judgment (e.g ...
Meta-ethics - Justification Theories
... to answer questions like, "How may moral judgments be supported or defended?" or "Why should I be moral?" If one presupposes a cognitivist interpretation of moral sentences, morality is justified by the moralist's ... Most moral epistemologies, of course, posit that moral knowledge is somehow possible, as opposed to moral skepticism ... Amongst them, there are those who hold that moral knowledge is gained inferentially on the basis of some sort of non-moral epistemic process, as opposed to ethical ...
Michael A. Smith - Work - Moral Realism
... He thus claims to solve the moral problem by giving an account of moral judgments in terms of what one would desire if one were fully rational ... As such, he attempts to maintain a form of moral realism whilst accounting for the motivational force of moral judgments ...
Moral Realism - Criticisms
... Several criticisms have been raised against moral realism The first is that, while realism can explain how to resolve moral conflicts, it does not explain how these conflicts ... The Moral Realist would appeal to basic human psychology, arguing that people possess various selfish motivations that they pursue instead, or else are simply mistaken about what is objectively ... Others are critical of moral realism because it postulates the existence of a kind of "moral fact" which is nonmaterial and does not appear to be accessible to the scientific method ...

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