This Friday we will begin hosting some of the lost Pacific APA sessions. (And if you would like us to host your session on moral/political philosophy, just let us know.) We will begin with a session on Max Hayward’s paper “How to be an Ethical Anti-Objectivist,” with comments by Caroline Arruda. Max isn’t going to “read” the paper here, though; you are. Same for Caroline’s comments. Max will post a few remarks on Friday, and away we will go with discussion. So for those of you interested in participating, Max’s paper is here, and Caroline’s comments are here. See you on Friday!

One Reply to “Pacific APA Sessions — Soup-Style — Beginning Friday”

  1. Hi Caroline! Thanks so much for these really helpful comments. Prompted by them, I think I can state the structure of my argument more clearly.

    An argument that morality must be *objective* in order to be *authoritative* has two steps:
    1) Morality is only authoritative if I has feature P.
    2) Morality only has feature P if it is objective.

    My view is that, for all candidates for feature P, either 1) or 2) will be false.

    For example, take the case where P is “being such as to be able to demonstrate to rational agent, who is not antecedently committed to morality [ie the amoralist/skeptic/knave] that she ought to be moral.” It’s plausible that 2) is true in this case. If the moral fact is just “out there”, then the knave ought to be able to “see” it, even if she won’t be moved it.* But 1) strikes me as false. Why should we need morality to be able to refute the skeptic in order to view it as authoritative /for us/?

    There are other candidates for P that I consider, here and in the longer version of this paper. The first is that ethics is not arbitrary – that when we change our views, this is not “mere change” but there is some standard of correctness we can aspire to. The second is that ethics not be actually bad for us – a mere instrument of social control (as we might think that some traditional sexual mores in fact are). And the third is that it is not fetishistic – when we make sacrifices in the name of morality (for example, sacrificing those that we care deeply about for the sake of strangers), we are not doing so in thrall to norms that themselves do no good (we need to be assured “of the value of our values”). I think that these are all good candidates for P, such that P would satisfy 1). But I think it implausible that any of these values for P are such that P would satisfy 2) – my sketched Kitcher-style genealogy of moral norms can show that morality has all these features, without it being the case the morality is objective in any robust way.

    Certainly, showing that the most obvious candidates for P don’t satisfy both 1) and 2) doesn’t show that there is *no* such candidate. I I don’t think that I have a general argument to this effect. So I don’t take my argument to be conclusive! But I’m not sure what the feature might be that would satisfy both 1) and 2).

    Now, I think that Caroline is introducing a new candidate for P which is distinct from the “refuting the skeptic” variety that I considered above, but which is also not one of the ones I considered. But I’d like to hear a bit more about what it is! And in particular, why we should think that it satisfies both 1) and 2).

    Thanks again!

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