SOPhiA 2022

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Knocking Normative Necessity
(Ethics, English)

Robust realism in metaethics holds two theses: ethical properties are stance independent (they do not constitutively depend on human-like attitudes) and irreducibly normative (they are or imply reasons). One objection is that sui generis ethical properties make strong supervenience (SS) a mystery:

(SS)_Nonethical properties metaphysically necessitate ethical properties.

(MH)_Commitment to brute necessary connections between discontinuous properties counts significantly against a view.

If ethical properties are sui generis with respect to nonethical properties, then it is a mystery how they could be metaphysically necessarily connected. But, by (MH), such mysteries are suspect; so, robust realism incurs a significant cost.

_Some have argued the connection between the ethical and nonethical is only normatively necessary, which is weaker than metaphysical necessity. If the connection is only normatively necessary, then there is no problem for robust realism. I aim to call into question the viability of normative necessity. I first argue (SS) does not entail, contra Rosen (2020), reductive naturalism since holism in essence is neither uncommon nor mysterious. The arguments are too complex for detail here, but to show this I draw on holism in theory of reasons and on holism in quantum mechanics. Holism in these domains is enough to vindicate holism in general. I then respond to a normative necessarian error theory of why we think metaphysical necessity is true. That argument relies on a same-explanation analysis of the closeness of worlds: all the closest possible worlds are worlds with the same explanation of the distribution of ethical properties, whatever that may be. My objection is that normative necessitarians are vulnerable to the Benacerraf-Field problem in a way the metaphysical necessitarians are not. The conclusion: the error theory offered is unfounded and metaphysical necessity is more plausible.

Chair: Gregor Greslehner
Time: 17:30-18:00, 07 September 2022 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.005
Remark: (Online Talk)

Nolan Cannon 
(Florida State University, United States of America)

Testability and Meaning deco