Michael Smith

in The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780199234769
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:



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This article aims to bring some of the general underlying questions that hover in the background of meta-ethical discussions into the foreground and then to suggest some answers. An initial question that hovers in the background of discussions in meta-ethics is why we bother thinking about meta-ethical questions in the first place, as opposed to meta-level questions about other normative domains. Coming up with an answer to this question forces us to address a fundamental issue about the normative force of moral claims. It is uncontroversial that there are multiple systems of norms. There are norms of rationality, norms of morality, legal norms, norms of etiquette, professional codes of conduct, norms that govern games, and so on.

Keywords: meta-ethics; meta-level questions; normative domain; moral claims; systems of norms; codes of conduct

Article.  13648 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language

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