Chapter

A New and Improved Supervenience Argument for Ethical Descriptivism

Campbell Brown

in Oxford Studies in Metaethics

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199606375
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729478 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199606375.003.0009
A New and Improved Supervenience Argument for Ethical Descriptivism

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Ethical descriptivism is the view that all ethical properties are descriptive properties. An argument for this view proposed by Frank Jackson begins with the premise that the ethical supervenes on the descriptive; any worlds that differ ethically must differ also descriptively. This chapter observes that Jackson’s argument follows a curious route, taking a linguistic detour between metaphysical starting and ending points, and raises some worries stemming from this. It then proposes an improved version of the argument, which avoids these worries, and responds to some potential objections to this version of the argument.

Keywords: ethical descriptivism; supervenience; Frank Jackson; ethical properties; descriptive properties

Chapter.  5775 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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