Mind-Independence without the Mystery: Why Quasi-Realists Can't Have it Both Ways

Sharon Street

in Oxford Studies in Metaethics

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199606375
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729478 | DOI:
Mind-Independence without the Mystery: Why Quasi-Realists Can't Have it Both Ways

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Quasi-realism about normativity is an ambitious attempt to have one's cake and eat it too in metaethics. The cake in question is an uncompromising naturalism that disavows anything metaphysically or epistemologically mysterious. Eating it consists in being able to go on saying all the things that ordinary realists about normativity say. This chapter argues that quasi-realists can't have it both ways. They must choose between a naturalistically palatable understanding of the nature and origins of normative judgment, on the one hand, and affirmations of the mind-independence of value, on the other. Quasi-realism—understood as an attempt to circumvent this choice and secure all the benefits of realism with none of the costs—fails. Moreover, even though one may in principle be an expressivist without being a quasi-realist, once quasi-realism's failure becomes clear, it is no longer obvious what advantages are to be gained from being an expressivist.

Keywords: quasi-realism; expressivism; realism; normativity; metaethics; ethics; naturalism; evolution; Gibbard; Blackburn

Chapter.  14790 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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