Moral explanations within a physicalist framework

Shin Kim, Purdue University


This dissertation is a moral realist response to the antirealist argument from the explanatory inadequacy of moral facts. Critics of moral realism, such as J. L. Mackie, Gilbert Harman, and Simon Blackburn have argued that moral facts have no explanatory value, viz. the EI thesis. In my dissertation, I defend moral realism against this charge. First, the antirealist argument against the existence of moral facts is critically explicated by distinguishing three antirealist inferences from the (alleged) explanatory inadequacy of moral facts thesis. Second, I argue that defending moral realism against the EI thesis is important pace irrelevance theorists. Such a defense is important especially because the quasi-realist debunks the traditional realist/antirealist debate. Explanationist moral realism marks the proper realist territory. Finally, moral explanations are argued to be lovelier (i.e., they provide more understanding of the world) than nonmoral ones. On the version of moral realism that I propose moral properties globally supervene on (but are not reducible to) the physical, but supervening properties are causally (probabilistically) efficacious. Overall, I argue that the explanatory inadequacy of moral facts thesis is false within a version of moral realism that is physicalistically respectable.




Curd, Purdue University.

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