Moral nonnaturalism

Guest editor

Cuneo (University of Vermont)

Deadline for Submission

1, 2014

Call for

invites papers on the topic of moral nonnaturalism for the 2014
Res Philosophica Essay Prize. The
author of the winning paper will receive a prize of $3,000 and publication in
the special issue of the journal on the same topic.  Submissions for the prize will be
automatically considered for publication in the journal's special issue unless
otherwise requested.



recent history of moral nonnaturalism has been both tumultuous and
unpredictable.  In the early 20th
century, thanks to the work of philosophers such as G. E. Moore and W. D. Ross,
nonnaturalism was arguably the dominant metaethical position in Anglo-American
philosophy. By mid-century, however, the view had fallen into disfavor,
eclipsed by various versions of expressivism and moral naturalism. Indeed, by
century's end, most philosophers had given up nonnaturalism for dead. The view
seemed to be of historical interest only. 


then, could have predicted that nonnaturalism would receive fresh and vigorous
defenses in the early 21st century. Philosophers such as Russ
Shafer-Landau, Ralph Wedgwood, David Enoch, and David Parfit each offered book-length
defenses of the view, developing the case that moral nonnaturalism is a far
more resilient, resourceful, and plausible position than most had assumed. 


nonnaturalism is now, once again, a view that philosophers take very seriously,
challenges remain. Some of these challenges concern the view's ontological
commitments: How ought we to understand what a nonnatural property (or fact)
is? What are the best reasons for holding that moral features (or facts) are
not reducible to natural features (or facts)? Are these reasons
persuasive?   Moreover, what should
nonnaturalists say in response to the charge that their view requires us to
believe that ontologically discontinuous entities such as natural and
nonnatural facts bear necessary connections to one another? 


challenges concern the view's epistemological commitments: Given the fact that
our moral views have been heavily influenced by contingent cultural,
historical, and evolutionary forces, how could nonnaturalists plausibly hold
that we reliably track the moral truths? Moreover, nonnaturalists have tended
to defend intuitionist views in moral epistemology, maintaining that some moral
propositions are self-evident. To what extent, though, is nonnaturalism
committed to a version of ethical intuitionism? And are these views


other challenges are broadly semantic: If nonnatural features (or facts) do not
enter into the causal flow of nature, how could we get them in mind or refer to
them? Are nonnaturalists committed to broadly descriptivist accounts of
reference?  Or can they join forces with
naturalists in championing nondescriptivist accounts of reference? 



are just a sample of the sorts of issue that submissions might address.  Papers that address other topics in the
neighborhood are welcome.


papers will be anonymously reviewed. Please format your submission so that it
is suitable for anonymous review.


can be up to 12,000 words long (including footnotes).

We accept pdf and Microsoft Word documents. Papers may be submitted in any
standard style, but authors of accepted papers will need to edit their papers
according to the journal's style, which follows The Chicago Manual of Style
(16th edition). Style instructions are available at:

Please use the online submission form for submitting your essay, available at: