As a Matter of Fact: Empirical Perspectives on Ethics

John M. Doris and Stephen P. Stich

in The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy

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


As a Matter of Fact: Empirical Perspectives on Ethics


This article seeks to convince the reader that the empirical literature is often deeply relevant to important debates, and it is therefore intellectually irresponsible to ignore them. Sometimes empirical findings seem to contradict what particular disputing parties assert or presuppose, while in other cases, they appear to reconfigure the philosophical topography, revealing that certain lines of argument must traverse empirically difficult terrain. Often, philosophers who follow these challenging routes will be forced to make additional empirical conjectures, and these conjectures, in their turn, must be subject to empirical scrutiny. The upshot is that an intellectually responsible philosophical ethics is one that continuously engages the relevant empirical literature.

Keywords: empirical conjectures; ethics; empirical literature; philosophical ethics; ethics of virtue; moral motivation

Article.  18845 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy

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