chapter
15 Pages

Naturalistic Realism in Metaethics

ByPeter Railton

How do ethical thought and practice relate to our experience and understanding of the world more generally? This question has many dimensions. Metaphysically, what is the place of value in a world of facts? Conceptually, how are claims about what ought to be the case related to claims about what is the case? Epistemically, how can our ethical beliefs be justified, when they often seem to be based upon “intuitions” that cannot be adjudicated by empirical experimentation or logical proof? And semantically, how can our thoughts and words successfully connect with putative ethical properties or facts? Such challenges are not limited to metaethics and can be found in some form right across the meta-normative realm, but it is with respect to ethics that attempts to meet them have been most developed, so that will be our principal focus here.