SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Is the Supervenience Argument Forceful?
(Ethics, )

A Robust realism in ethics holds that ethical properties are sui generis (they cannot be reduced to any nonethical property) and normative. The supervenience challenge to robust realism is usually taken as the strongest objection to the view, but some have recently objected that the argument is not forceful. I focus on these objections. There are two types of objection: the first targets strong supervenience (SS) the second objection targets Modest Humean (MH). There are two objects to (SS). First, if (SS) is a conceptual truth, then it does not need explaining and, even if it did, it would be easy since robust realists can say that being happiness-maximizing (say) makes something right. I reply that (SS) is a conceptual truth about a metaphysical necessity, and metaphysical necessities normally call for explanation. Further, the making-relation might explain (SS), but it gives us another puzzle: how does being happiness-maximizing necessarily make something right? This is the same puzzle (SS) generated. Second, if normativity involves reasons, and nonethical properties just are the reasons for us to do certain things, (SS) is easy to explain since the nonethical property just is the ethical one. But, nonethical properties must stand in favoring relations to actions. Since the favoring relation is part of the reason, reasons are not nonethical properties and (SS) remains a puzzle. There are two objections to (MH). The first attempts to show (MH) is false by counterexample. I reply to the counterexamples and diagnose what goes wrong with them such that we should doubt any counterexample to (MH). The second objection appeals to the essences of ethical properties to make (MH) easily satisfiable: the essences of ethical properties explain the necessary connections with nonethical properties. I reply that the simple essence explanation is unsatisfactory since it requires the robust realist to accept that the ethical is really not sui generis in the relevant sense.

Chair: Glenn Anderau
Time: 14:00-14:30, 09 September 2021 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.004
Remark: (Online Talk)

Nolan Cannon 
(University of Kent, )

Testability and Meaning deco