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February 08 , 2008

The Normative Web: An Argument for Moral Realism


Antirealist views about morality claim that moral facts or truths do not exist. Does this imply that other types of normative facts, such as epistemic facts, do not exist? The Normative Web develops a positive answer to this question. Terence Cuneo argues that moral and epistemic facts are sufficiently similar so that, if moral facts do not exist, then epistemic facts do not exist. But epistemic facts do exist: to deny their existence would commit us to an extreme version of epistemological scepticism. Therefore, Cuneo concludes, moral facts do exist. And if moral facts exist, then moral realism is true. It is sometimes said that moral realists rarely offer arguments for their position, settling instead for mere defenses of a view they find intuitively plausible. By contrast, The Normative Web provides not merely a defense of robust realism in ethics, but a positive argument for this position. In so doing, it engages with a range of antirealist positions in epistemology such as error theories, expressivist views, and reductionist views of epistemic reasons. These positions, Cuneo claims, come at a prohibitively high theoretical cost. Given this cost, it follows that realism about both epistemic and moral facts is a position that we should find highly attractive.
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