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BY ALEX MILLER

INTRODUCTION
Metaethics can be described as the philosophical study of the nature of moral judgment. It is concerned with
such questions as: Do moral judgments express beliefs or rather desires and inclinations? Are moral judgments
apt to be assessed in terms of truth and falsity? Do moral sentences have factual meaning? Are any moral
judgments true or are they systematically and uniformly false? Is there such a thing as moral knowledge? Are
moral judgments less objective than, say, judgments about the shapes and sizes of middle-sized physical
objects? Is there a necessary connection between moral judgments and motivation? Are moral requirements
requirements of reason? Do moral judgments have a natural or non-natural subject matter?
A useful way of starting on metaethics is to distinguish between realist and non-realist views of morality. Moral
realists hold that moral judgments express beliefs, and that some of those beliefs are true in virtue of
mind-independent moral facts. Opposition to moral realism can take a number of forms. Expressivists deny
that moral judgments express beliefs, claiming instead that they express non truth-assessable mental states
such as desires or inclinations. Error theorists and fictionalists claim that moral judgments are systematically
false. Response-dependence views of moral judgments allow that moral judgments express beliefs and that at
least some of them are true, but hold that they are true in virtue of mind-dependent moral facts. Moral realism
itself comes in many varieties: reductionist, non-reductionist, naturalist, non-naturalist, internalist, externalist,
analytic, and synthetic.

GENERAL OVERVIEWS
Overviews of metaethics are often found in larger reference works about ethics. The volumes listed in this
section contain a broad range of high-level introductory essays by key researchers in metaethics. Singer 1991 is
an overview of ethics in different cultures and historical settings before moving into theories and practical
applications. LaFollette 2000 has a section on metaethics that includes essays on relativism, naturalism, moral
intuition, and objections to ethics. Copp 2007 devotes the first half of the book to issues surrounding
metaethics. Skorupski 2010 devotes a section to these issues as well, including error theory and fictionalism.
Copp, David, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory . Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2007.
The first half contains twelve essays on metaethical themes by Blackburn, Railton, Sturgeon, Dancy and
others, as well as an introductory essay by the editor.

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LaFollette, Hugh, ed. The Blackwell Guide to Ethical Theory . Oxford: Blackwell, 2000.
The first half contains eight useful introductory chapters on metaethical themes.

Singer, Peter, ed. A Companion to Ethics . Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.


Part 4 contains several very useful chapters on metaethical themes by leading metaethicists such as Dancy,
Smith, and Hare.

Skorupski, John, ed. The Routledge Companion to Ethics . London: Routledge, 2010.
Part 2 contains several essays on some central topics in metaethics.

TEXTBOOKS AND ANTHOLOGIES


McNaughton 1988, Darwall 1997, and Miller 2003 are the best available survey texts, while Smith 1994 can
serve as one. The serious student would get a sound grounding by reading one or more of these, supplemented
by readings from Darwall, et al. 1997, Fisher and Kirchin 2006, and/or Shafer-Landau and Cuneo 2006. Dreier
2006 is probably the most advanced of the volumes.
Darwall, Stephen. Philosophical Ethics: An Historical and Contemporary Introduction . Boulder,
CO: Westview, 1997.
The first half is a very useful introduction to metaethical themes, while the second half looks at historical
philosophers such as Kant, Aristotle, Mill, and Nietzsche.

Darwall, Stephen, Allan Gibbard, and Peter Railton, eds. Moral Discourse and Practice: Some

Philosophical Approaches . New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.


A selection of twenty-three high-level papers and chapters from 20th-century metaethics. Contains many
of the papers referred to in this bibliography.

Dreier, James, ed. Contemporary Debates in Moral Theory . Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2006.
Contains five pairs of articles (generally taking distinct perspectives) on reason and motivation, and moral
facts and explanations.

Fisher, Andrew, and Simon Kirchin, eds. Arguing about Metaethics . London: Routledge, 2006.
A comprehensive collection of key papers and chapters in recent metaethics. Also contains excellent
editorial introductions to each of the main themes covered by the selections.

McNaughton, David. Moral Vision: An Introduction to Ethics . Oxford: Blackwell, 1988.


A good introduction, written from a particularist and non-naturalist perspective.

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Miller, Alexander. An Introduction to Contemporary Metaethics . Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2003.


A critical overview of metaethics from 1903 onwards, with chapters on Moore, Ayer, Blackburn, Gibbard,
response-dependence, Mackie, reductive and non-reductive naturalism, and the non-naturalism of
McDowell and Wiggins.

Shafer-Landau, Russ, and Terence Cuneo, eds. Foundations of Ethics: An Anthology . Malden, MA:
Blackwell, 2006.
A comprehensive selection of key texts from 20th-century metaethics, together with useful introductory
commentary from the editors.

Smith, Michael. The Moral Problem . Oxford: Blackwell, 1994.


An influential monograph, so clearly written that it could serve as a high-level introduction to much of the
area.

SURVEYS
Included here are survey articles general enough to cover broad areas of metaethical terrain. Darwall, et al. 1992
and Smith 1998 take off in their own ways from Moore 1993 (cited under Moore and the Open Question
Argument), while Little 1994a, Little 1994b, Railton 1996, and Sayre-McCord 1986 structure their overviews
around moral realism. Wright 1996 comes at metaethics from the general realism versus antirealism debate.
Darwall, Stephen, Allan Gibbard, and Peter Railton. Toward Fin de Sicle Ethics: Some Trends.

Philosophical Review 101 (1992): 115189.


[DOI: 10.2307/2185045]
A magisterial survey covering the period 1903 to 1992, co-authored by three philosophers with quite
divergent metaethical views.

Little, Margaret. Moral Realism I: Naturalism. Philosophical Books 35 (1994a): 145153.


[DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0149.1994.tb02417.x]
A concise but very helpful survey of work in the (predominantly US) naturalist realist tradition.

Little, Margaret. Moral Realism II: Non-Naturalism. Philosophical Books 35 (1994b): 225233.
[DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0149.1994.tb02885.x]
A concise but very helpful survey of work in the (predominantly British) non-naturalist realist tradition.

Railton, Peter Moral Realism: Problems and Prospects. In Moral Knowledge? New Readings in

Moral Epistemology . Edited by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Mark Timmons, 4981. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1996.

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Contains an extremely useful progressive taxonomy of realism together with a nice flowchart.

Sayre-McCord, Geoffrey. The Many Moral Realisms. Southern Journal of Philosophy 24 (1986):
122.
A useful overview but with a somewhat unrefined conception of moral realism.

Smith, Michael. Ethics and the A Priori: A Modern Parable. Philosophical Studies 92 (1998):
149174.
[DOI: 10.1023/A:1017132222454]
A hilarious survey of some main metaethical concerns, set around a lunchtime discussion between a saladeating cognitivist (Cog) and a fish-and-chip-eating non-cognitivist (Noncog).

Wright, Crispin. Truth in Ethics. In Truth in Ethics . Edited by Brad Hooker, 118. Oxford:
Blackwell, 1996.
A refined survey that explores the possibility of non-expressivist and non-error-theoretic forms of
opposition to moral realism.

REFERENCE WORKS AND ONLINE RESOURCES


Online resources generally are of uneven quality, but the two listed here (PEA Soup and Ethics Etc.) can be
recommended. The Oxford Studies in Metaethics series (Schafer-Landau 2006) has rapidly established itself as
one of the leading regular publications specializing in metaethics. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a
comprehensive resource for all areas within the field. Lenmans Bibliography of Metaethics is a useful tool,
listing sources alphabetically by author.
A Bibliography of Metaethics.
A useful and extensive bibliography maintained by Sheffield philosopher James Lenman.

Ethics Etc.
Features useful posts on metaethics within a forum for contemporary philosophical issues in ethics.

PEA Soup.
Founded in 2004, this blog includes a section dedicated to metaethics, with posts from many leading
metaethicists.

Schafer-Landau, Russ, ed. Oxford Studies in Metaethics . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Published annually, each volume contains high quality cutting-edge work on metaethics.

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Zalta, Edward N., ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University.
Contains many generally excellent entries on metaethical issues and themes.

MOORE AND THE OPEN QUESTION ARGUMENT


In many ways, Moore 1993 (originally published in 1903) can be regarded as the foundational document of
20th century and contemporary metaethics. Moores open question argument purported to show that good
could not be conceptually equivalent to any predicatesuch as maximizes happinessreferring to a natural
property, so that moral judgments could not be viewed as expressing beliefs about the instantiation of natural
facts. The argument was hugely influential in the 20th century, initially pushing philosophers in the direction of
non-naturalism (the view that moral judgments express beliefs about non-natural facts) or emotivism (the view
that moral judgments express emotions or feelings rather than beliefs). The argument gradually fell into
disrepute, but it continues to exert an influence on contemporary metaethics, with philosophers now viewing it
not as aspiring to refute naturalism but rather to highlight features of moral judgment that naturalism must
accommodate (Snare 1975, Baldwin 1993, Darwall, et al. 1992).
Baldwin, Thomas. G. E. Moore: Selected Writings . London: Routledge, 1993.
Chapter 3 surveys the fortunes of the open question argument and attempts to salvage a version of the
argument less ambitious than Moores.

Darwall, Steven, Allan Gibbard, and Peter Railton. Toward Fin de Sicle Ethics: Some Trends.

Philosophical Review 101 (1992): 115189.


[DOI: 10.2307/2185045]
Section 1 provides a useful summary of how Moores argument influenced 20th-century metaethics, and
there is an attempt to salvage a version of the argument that purports only to pose a challenge for
naturalism.

Frankena, W. K. The Naturalistic Fallacy. Mind 48 (1939): 464477.


A classic paper containing a rich and many-layered critique of Moores open question argument. Reprinted
in Fisher and Kirchin 2006 (cited under Textbooks and Anthologies), pp. 4758.

Horgan, Terry, and Mark Timmons, eds. Metaethics after Moore . Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2006.
Sixteen papers, many by leading metaethicists, exploring Moores impact on 20th-century and
contemporary metaethics.

Moore, G. E. Principia Ethica . Rev. ed. Edited by Thomas Baldwin. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge
University Press, 1993.
The opening chapter, The Subject-Matter of Ethics, contains the classic statement of the open question

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argument. Baldwins editorial introduction contains some very useful commentary.

Smith, Michael. The Moral Problem . Oxford: Blackwell, 1994.


Chapter 2 contains a concise summary of standard objections to the open question argument.

Snare, Frank. The Open Question as Linguistic Test. Ratio 17 (1975): 122129.
A very useful discussion suggesting that the open question argument can be used to test naturalist
accounts of the meaning of moral expressions. Reprinted in Fisher and Kirchin 2006 (cited under
Textbooks and Anthologies), pp. 5965.

Wellman, Christopher H., ed. Centenary Symposium on G. E. Moores Principia Ethica . Special
issue, Ethics 113 (2003).
A special issue of Ethics containing papers by several leading contemporary philosophers.

INTUITIONISM AND NON-NATURALISM


In the wake of the (apparent) refutation of ethical naturalism in Moores Principia Ethica, philosophers such as
Prichard and Ross (see Dancy 1991) embraced intuitionism, a view that in general could be described as
holding that basic moral judgments and basic moral principles are justified by the noninferential deliverances
of a rational intuitive faculty (Audi 1996), a faculty capable of yielding access to non-natural moral facts. The
view, accused by its detractors of metaphysical and epistemological bankruptcy, fell into disrepute and was
overtaken by expressivist views starting with emotivism. Non-naturalism eventually returned to the
philosophical mainstream in the final quarter of the 20th century with the work of Wiggins, McDowell, and
Dancy.
Audi, Robert. Intuitionism, Pluralism, and the Foundations of Ethics. In Moral Knowledge? New

Readings in Moral Epistemology . Edited by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Mark Timmons,


101136. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
An attempt by a distinguished epistemologist to show that intuitionism is a more serious metaethical
contender than is usually thought.

Dancy, Jonathan. Intuitionism. In A Companion to Ethics . Edited by Peter Singer, 411420.


Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.
A short survey, placing the non-naturalistic intuitionism of Prichard and Ross in the context of metaethics
in the last quarter of the 20th century.

Ridge, Michael. Moral Non-Naturalism. In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy . Edited by


Edward N. Zalta. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, 2008.
An excellent survey, starting with a critique of Moore.

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Smith, Michael. The Moral Problem . Oxford: Blackwell, 1994.


Section 2.4 argues that non-naturalistic intuitionism fails because it cannot account for the a priori
supervenience of the moral on the natural.

Stratton-Lake, Philip., ed. Ethical Intuitionism: Re-evaluations . Oxford: Clarendon, 2002.


A number of leading metaethicists examine whether intuitionism can add anything genuine and substantial
to our understanding of morality.

Warnock, G. J. Contemporary Moral Philosophy . London: Macmillan, 1967.


Contains a standard critique of non-naturalism.

EXPRESSIVISM
One way of avoiding both the challenge posed to naturalism by the open-question argument as well as the
metaphysical and epistemological extravagances of non-naturalism involves denying that moral sentences are in
the business of purporting to represent facts. There are various forms, including emotivism, prescriptivism,
quasi-realism, and norm-expressivism.
Emotivism
Emotivism is the view that moral judgments express emotions, feelings, or sentiments, and are thus not
assessable in terms of truth and falsity. Ayer 1946 contains a polemical statement of the view as part of a
statement of logical positivism. According to Ayer, moral disagreements consist in clashes of inclination and are
thus, at bottom, not rationally resolvable. Stevenson 1966 and Stevenson 1944 provide a more careful and
pedestrian defense of the view. Kivy 1980 and Kivy 1992 compare emotivism about moral judgment with
emotivism about aesthetic judgment, while Miller 1998 argues that an extension of the logical positivists
verification principle pushes emotivism in the direction of moral nihilism.
Ayer, Alfred J. Language, Truth and Logic . 2d ed. London: Gollancz, 1946.
Chapter 6, A Critique of Ethics and Theology, is a classic and concise statement of emotivism. The long
introduction to the 1946second edition contains some important qualifications.

Kivy, Peter. A Failure of Aesthetic Emotivism. Philosophical Studies 38 (1980): 351365.


[DOI: 10.1007/BF00419335]
One of two unjustly neglected papers arguing that emotivism is less plausible in the aesthetic case than in
the moral case.

Kivy, Peter. Oh Boy! You Too! Aesthetic Emotivism Rexamined. In The Philosophy of A. J. Ayer .
Edited by Lewis Edwin Hahn, 309328. La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1992.

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Along with Kivy 1980, this paper usefully brings out crucial aspects of the emotivist view of the function of
moral judgment.

Miller, Alexander. Emotivism and the Verification Principle. Proceedings of the Aristotelian

Society 98 (1998): 103124.


[DOI: 10.1111/1467-9264.00027]
Argues that an extended version of the verification principle that originally motivated emotivism can be
used to undermine it.

Stevenson, C. L. Ethics and Language . New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1944.
An extended treatment of the themes discussed in Stevenson 1966.

Stevenson, C. L. The Emotive Meaning of Ethical Terms. Reprinted in Logical Positivism . Edited
by A. J. Ayer, 264281. New York: Free Press, 1966.
Originally published in Mind in 1937, this paper sets out a form of emotivism subtler than that of Ayer
1946.

Prescriptivism
Prescriptivism is a form of expressivism according to which moral claims express prescriptions or imperatives.
The principle defender of the view was R. M. Hare (Hare 2003a, Hare 2003b, Hare 1981). Hares prescriptivism
unlike emotivismattempts to show that ethical arguments can be underpinned by reason. Geach 1960 and
Geach 1965 raise a difficulty for expressivist viewsincluding prescriptivismthat contemporary expressivists
such as Blackburn and Gibbard have expended much energy in attempting to solve. (See also Quasi-Realism
and Norm-Expressivism.)
Geach, Peter. Ascriptivism. Philosophical Review 69 (1960): 221225.
[DOI: 10.2307/2183506]
Usually read alongside Geach 1965, this paper attempts to refute ascriptivism.

Geach, Peter. Assertion. Philosophical Review 74 (1965): 449465.


[DOI: 10.2307/2183123]
Along with Geach 1960, this paper argues that expressivist views of moral expressions cannot account for
the use of moral sentences within unasserted contexts such as the antecedents of conditions. The
Frege-Geach problem, as it has become known, has proved to be a thorn in the side for expressivist
views generally.

Hare, R. M. Moral Thinking: Its Levels, Method, and Point . Oxford: Clarendon, 1981.
Uses a distinction between two levels of moral thinking to develop, inter alia, a utilitarian ethic that coheres

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with prescriptivism.

Hare, R. M. Universal Prescriptivism. In A Companion to Ethics . Edited by Peter Singer,


451463. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.
A short and accessible version of Hares views on prescriptivism and competitor accounts of the meanings
of moral claims.

Hare, R. M. Sorting Out Ethics . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.


Includes a taxonomy of metaethical views including naturalism, intuitionism, and emotivism.

Hare, R. M. The Language of Morals . Oxford: Clarendon, 2003a.


Hares first extended treatment of prescriptivism and the locus classicus for the view.

Hare, R. M. Freedom and Reason . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003b.


Builds on Hare 2003a, extending it to account for various kinds of moral reasoning.

Quasi-Realism
Quasi-realism is a position developed by Simon Blackburn (Blackburn 1984, Blackburn 1993, Blackburn 1998)
from the 1970s onwards that attempts to explain moral judgment using only materials congenial to projectivism
(that moral judgments are expressions of sentiments towards naturalnon-moralstates of affairs and
properties). In particular, quasi-realism argues that a projectivist view of moral judgment can legitimate features
of moral practice normally held to require moral realism. Hale 1993 questions Blackburns approaches to the
Frege-Geach problem (also surveyed in Klbel 2002). McDowell 1981 and McDowell 1998 criticize Blackburn
from a realist perspective, while Wright 1988 argues that quasi-realism is not a plausible vehicle for opposition
to moral realism.
Blackburn, Simon. Spreading the Word: Groundings in the Philosophy of Language . Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1984.
Chapters 5 and 6 present and defend quasi-realism.

Blackburn, Simon. Essays in Quasi-Realism . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.


A collection of Blackburns central articles on quasi-realism.

Blackburn, Simon. Ruling Passions . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.


Blackburns latest book-length defense of his metaethical views. Develops a form of commitmenttheoretic semantics as a solution to the Frege-Geach problem.

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Hale, Bob. Can There Be a Logic of Attitudes? In Reality, Representation, and Projection . Edited
by John Haldane and Crispin Wright, 337363. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.
A detailed critique of Blackburns various attempts to solve the Frege-Geach problem.

Klbel, Max. Truth without Objectivity . London: Routledge, 2002.


Chapter 4 is a superbly clear commentary on the Frege-Geach problem.

McDowell, John. Non-Cognitivism and Rule-Following. In Wittgenstein: To Follow a Rule . Edited


by Steven H. Holtzmann and Christopher M. Leich, 141162. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul,
1981.
Argues that quasi-realism presupposes a view of conceptual competence undermined by Wittgensteins
rule-following considerations. Blackburn has an extended reply in the same volume.

McDowell, John. Projectivism and Truth in Ethics. Reprinted in Mind, Value and Reality . Edited
by John McDowell, 151166. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 1998.
One of McDowells most clearly written papers. Argues that the Quasi-Realist cannot explain moral
judgment as the expression of sentiment. Reprinted in Fisher and Kirchin 2006 (cited under Textbooks
and Anthologies), pp. 489502.

Wright, Crispin. Realism, Antirealism, Irrealism, Quasi-Realism. Midwest Studies in Philosophy


12 (1988): 2549.
A general survey of the debates between realists and their opponents containing inter alia a critique of
quasi-realism.

Norm-Expressivism
Allan Gibbard (independently) develops a view that in many ways is a close cousin of Blackburns quasi-realism.
Gibbard, like Blackburn, attempts to explain and justify the realist-seeming features of our moral practice
given only materials that would be acceptable to a naturalist. According to Gibbard 1990, moral judgments can
be viewed as expressing acceptance of norms governing the permissibility of feelings like guilt and impartial
anger, while Gibbard 2003 develops the notion of plan-laden thoughts as a vehicle for an expressivist account
of normative judgment. Blackburn 1992, Horwich 1993, Wedgewood 1997, and DArms and Jacobson 1994
provide critical commentary from a range of different perspectives.
Blackburn, Simon. Gibbard on Normative Logic. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52
(1992): 947952.
[DOI: 10.2307/2107920]
A brief but very insightful critique of Gibbard from a philosopher very sympathetic with his overall aims.

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DArms, Justin, and Daniel Jacobson. Expressivism, Morality, and the Emotions. Ethics 104
(1994): 739763.
[DOI: 10.1086/293653]
A critical discussion focussing on the role that sentiments such as guilt and anger play within Gibbards
norm-expressivism.

Gibbard, Allan. Wise Choices, Apt Feelings: A Theory of Normative Judgment . Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 1990.
A book-length development of norm-expressivism. Chapter 5 offers a novel and ingenious solution of the
Frege-Geach problem.

Gibbard, Allan. Thinking How to Live . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.
Following on from Gibbard 1990, this book develops a sophisticated form of expressivism according to
which evaluative judgments express what Gibbard calls planning states.

Horwich, Paul. Gibbards Theory of Norms. Philosophy and Public Affairs 22 (1993): 6778.
A useful discussion that should be read in conjunction with the works cited under Minimalism and
Expressivism.

Wedgewood, Ralph. Non-Cognitivism, Truth, and Logic. Philosophical Studies 86 (1997):


7391.
[DOI: 10.1023/A:1017968816286]
Very clear exposition and commentary, usefully brings out points of contrast between Gibbards
norm-expressivism and Blackburns quasi-realism.

Minimalism and Expressivism


If minimalism about the predicate true is the view that it does not refer to a substantial property but is merely
a linguistic device for making indirect or compendious endorsements of assertions, does it undermine
expressivist views of moral judgment or is it rather a view that the expressivist can use to justify his or her claim
to capture features of moral discourse that seemingly require moral realism? Smith 1994a, Smith 1994b,
Jackson, et al. 1994, and Blackburn 1998 argue that minimalism is consistent with expressivism, while Divers
and Miller 1994, Divers and Miller 1995, Horwich 1994, and Wright 1998 defend the opposing view that
minimalism undermines expressivism.
Blackburn, Simon. Wittgenstein, Wright, Rorty, and Minimalism. Mind 107 (1998): 157181.
Includes criticism of the use of minimalism made by authors such as Wright.

Divers, John, and Alexander Miller. Why Expressivists about Value Should Not Love Minimalism

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about Truth. Analysis 54 (1994): 1219.


[DOI: 10.2307/3328097]
A direct response to Smith 1994a. Reprinted in Fisher and Kirchin 2006 (cited under Textbooks and
Anthologies), pp. 443442. This paper can usefully be read in conjunction with the discussion of
expressivism in Wright 1996 (cited under Surveys).

Divers, John, and Alexander Miller. Platitudes and Attitudes: A Minimalist Conception of Belief.

Analysis 55 (1995): 3744.


[DOI: 10.2307/3328618]
A reply to Smith 1994b and Jackson, et al. 1994. Argues that minimalism about truth-aptitude naturally
generates a minimalist conception of belief.

Dreier, James. Meta-ethics and the Problem of Creeping Minimalism. Philosophical Perspectives
18 (2006): 2344.
A good discussion of how the issue about minimalism threatens to undermine the standard metaethical
distinction between moral realism and views that oppose it.

Horwich, Paul. The Essence of Expressivism. Analysis 54 (1994): 1921.


[DOI: 10.2307/3328098]
Horwich argues that his own brand of minimalism motivates the reformulation of expressivism as
traditionally understood. This paper can usefully be read in conjunction with Horwich 1993 (cited under
Norm-Expressivism).

Jackson, Frank, Graham Oppy, and Michael Smith. Minimalism and Truth Aptness. Mind 103
(1994): 287302.
[DOI: 10.1093/mind/103.411.287]
More argument along the lines of Smith 1994b. Includes a good discussion of the difference between
minimalism about truth and minimalism about truth-aptitude.

Smith, Michael. Why Expressivists about Value Should Love Minimalism about Truth. Analysis
54 (1994a): 111.
[DOI: 10.2307/3328096]
A wonderfully clear argument that expressivists can embrace rather than shun minimalism. Reprinted in
Fisher and Kirchin 2006 (cited under Textbooks and Anthologies), pp. 423433.

Smith, Michael. Minimalism, Truth-Aptitude, and Belief. Analysis 54 (1994b): 2126.


[DOI: 10.2307/3328099]

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A reply to Divers and Miller 1994 and Horwich 1994, exploiting platitudinous links between the notions of
truth-aptitude and belief.

Wright, Crispin. Comrades against Quietism: Reply to Simon Blackburn on Truth and

Objectivity . Mind 107 (1998): 183203.


[DOI: 10.1093/mind/107.425.183]
A reply to Blackburn 1998 that includes some discussion about the issue of minimalism and expressivism.

Objections and Alternatives to Expressivism


Jackson and Pettit 1998, Cuneo 2006, Dorr 2002, and Smith 2001 all develop novel objections to expressivism,
while Ridge 2006 and Horgan and Timmons 2006 propose novel ways of developing expressivism.
Cuneo, Terence. Saying What We Mean: An Argument against Expressivism. In Oxford Studies in

Metaethics . Vol. 1. Edited by Russ Schafer-Landau, 3571. Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2006.
Argues against expressivism on the grounds that it is unable to accommodate properly the illocutionary
act intentions or ordinary moral agents.

Dorr, Cian. Non-cognitivism and Wishful Thinking. Nos 36 (2002): 97103.


Argues that expressivists must hold that it is irrational to infer the conclusion of a moral modus ponens
argument from its premises.

Horgan, Terry, and Mark Timmons. Morality without Moral Facts. In Contemporary Debates in

Moral Theory . Edited by James Dreier, 220238. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006.


One of a series of recent papers in which Horgan and Timmons argue in favor of cognitivist expressivism,
a view on which moral judgments express non-descriptive beliefs.

Jackson, Frank, and Philip Pettit. A Problem for Expressivism. Analysis 58 (1998): 239251.
[DOI: 10.1111/1467-8284.00128]
Argues that expressivism must inevitably collapse into a form of subjectivist cognitivism.

Ridge, Michael. Ecumenical Expressivism: Finessing Frege. Ethics 116 (2006): 302366.
[DOI: 10.1086/498462]
Develops a form of ecumenical expressivism, according to which moral utterances express both beliefs
and desires, and seeks to avoid thereby the Frege-Geach problem.

Schroeder, Mark. Hybrid Expressivism: Virtues and Vices. Ethics 119 (2009): 257309.

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[DOI: 10.1086/597019]
A state-of-the-art survey of views in the broad style of Ridge 2006.

Smith, Michael. Some Not-Much-Discussed Problems for Non-Cognitivism in Ethics. Ratio 14


(2001): 93115.
[DOI: 10.1111/1467-9329.00149]
Suggests that the open-question argument, traditionally used by expressivists against their realist
opponents, might be adapted to attack expressivism itself.

ERROR THEORY AND MORAL FICTIONALISM


Both types of view attempt to avoid the Frege-Geach problem by rejecting expressivism and embracing a
factualist semantics for moral discourse. However, they also attempt to avoid the need to postulate the existence
of moral facts by denying that moral statements are true.
Error Theory
While expressivism claims that moral judgments dont express beliefs and thus fail to be truth-apt, errortheories view moral judgments as expressing beliefs and moral sentences as genuinely descriptive. However,
they avoid commitment to moral factsand the attendant metaphysical and epistemological obligationsby
suggesting that all positive, atomic moral judgments and statements are systematically and uniformly false. The
classic statement of the error-theory in the moral case can be found in Mackie 1977. McDowell 1985, Blackburn
1985, Brink 1984, Wright 1992, and Smith 1993 all offer critiques of Mackie, while Garner defends Mackie
against naturalistic moral realism.
Blackburn, Simon. Errors and the Phenomenology of Value. In Morality and Objectivity: A

Tribute to J. L. Mackie . Edited by Ted Honderich, 122. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul,
1985.
Responds to McDowell 1985 regarding J. L. Mackie.

Brink, David O. Moral Realism and the Sceptical Arguments from Disagreement and Queerness.

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 62 (1984): 112225.


Argues that a naturalistic, externalist view of moral judgment can deflect Mackies arguments for the error
theory. Reprinted in Fisher and Kirchin 2006 (cited under Textbooks and Anthologies), pp. 8095.

Garner, Richard T. On the Genuine Queerness of Moral Properties and Facts. Australasian

Journal of Philosophy 68 (1990): 137146.


[DOI: 10.1080/00048409012344161]
Argues that Brinks externalist moral realism fails to deal adequately with Mackies arguments for the error
theory. Reprinted in Fisher and Kirchin 2006 (cited under Textbooks and Anthologies), pp. 96106.

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Mackie, J. D. Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong . New York: Penguin, 1977.
The classic source of argumentssuch as the argument from queernessin favor of an error theory of
moral judgment.

McDowell, John. Values and Secondary Qualities. In Morality and Objectivity: A Tribute to J. L.

Mackie . Edited by Ted Honderich, 110129. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985.
Offers a difficult but rewarding exchange of views with Blackburn 1985 on Mackies error-theory, from
realist and expressivist perspectives respectively.

Smith, Michael. Objectivity and Moral Realism: On the Significance of the Phenomenology of
Moral Experience. In Reality, Representation, and Projection . Edited by John Haldane and Crispin
Wright, 235255. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.
A sophisticated but wonderfully clear discussion of Mackies error theory and McDowells response in
McDowell 1985. The paper by John Campbell (and Smiths reply) in the same volume are worth a look for
those interested in exploring points of contact between metaethics and the philosophy of color.

Wright, Crispin. Truth and Objectivity . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.
Chapter 1 contains an argument that error theories do not offer a plausible vehicle for opposition to moral
realism.

Moral Fictionalism
Moral fictionalism challenges the idea that factualism (the view that moral sentences are descriptive) necessarily
goes along with cognitivism (the view that moral judgments express beliefs). Fictionalists propose forms of

non-cognitivist factualism about moral practice, according to which moral claims have genuine truthconditional content but are not used to express beliefs that those contents are true (compare with the cognitivist
non-factualism proposed by Horgan and Timmons (see Horgan and Timmons 2006, cited under Objections and
Alternatives to Expressivism). By retaining the idea that moral sentences are factual, the fictionalist attempts to
avoid the Frege-Geach problem that causes such difficulty for expressivism, but, by avoiding the idea that moral
claims express true beliefs, attempts to steer clear of commitment to moral facts. Moral fictionalism comes in
two main varieties: hermeneutic or descriptive fictionalism (Kalderon 2005a) and revolutionary or revisionary
fictionalism (Joyce 2001).
Eklund, Matti. Fictionalism. In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy . Edited by Edward N. Zalta.
Stanford, CA: Stanford University, 2007.
A useful survey of fictionalism in general with an extensive bibliography.

Hussain, Nadeem J. Z. The Return of Moral Fictionalism. Philosophical Perspectives 18 (2004):


149187.
An attempt to deflate some of the pretensions of moral fictionalism.

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Joyce, Richard. The Myth of Morality . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Develops a form of revolutionary moral fictionalism, a form of fictionalism that recommends a reform of
our actual moral practice.

Kalderon, Mark Eli. Moral Fictionalism . Oxford: Clarendon, 2005a.


An outline of a form of hermeneutic moral fictionalism, a form of fictionalism that purports to be
descriptive of our ordinary moral practice.

Kalderon, Mark Eli. Fictionalism in Metaphysics . Oxford: Clarendon, 2005b.


An excellent collection of articles on fictionalism, including an exchange between Simon Blackburn and
David Lewis on whether quasi-realism should be viewed as a form of fictionalism.

Nolan, Daniel, Greg Restall, and Caroline West. Moral Fictionalism versus the Rest. Australasian

Journal of Philosophy 83 (2005): 307330.


[DOI: 10.1080/00048400500191917]
A defense of a revisionary form of moral fictionalism.

Stanley, Jason. Hermeneutic Fictionalism. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 25 (2001): 3671.


[DOI: 10.1111/1475-4975.00039]
Argues that hermeneutic fictionalism is not a viable strategy in ontology.

Yablo, Stephen. Go Figure: A Path through Fictionalism. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 25


(2001): 72102.
[DOI: 10.1111/1475-4975.00040]
An exchange between two leading philosophers investigating the pros and cons of fictionalism.

RESPONSE DEPENDENCE
Expressivists standardly deny that moral judgments express beliefs or that moral sentences have truthconditions. Those who hold response-dependent views of morality retain the idea that moral judgments express
beliefs or that moral sentences have truth-conditions, but claim that the beliefs expressed by moral judgments
are beliefs about properties or states of affairs that in some way or other implicate human judgments,
sentiments, orgenerallyresponses: in other words, that the truth-conditions of moral sentences constitutively
implicate human judgments, sentiments, or responses. McDowell 1985 and Wiggins 1987 explore the idea from
a non-naturalist perspective, and the view that they propose is closely scrutinized in Wright 1988. Johnston
1989 is part of a symposium that looks at the idea of response-dependence from the perspective of the
Australian-American philosophical axis. The appendix to Chapter3 of Wright 1992 is essential reading for
anyone wishing to get a grip on the idea of response-dependence generally while Blackburn 1993 provides a

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critical and searching examination of the notion. Railton 1998 and Smith 1998 look at response-dependence
from different realistic and broadly naturalistic perspectives.
Blackburn, Simon. Circles, Finks, Smells, and Biconditionals. Philosophical Perspectives 7
(1993): 259279.
[DOI: 10.2307/2214125]
A characteristically engaging and perceptive attempt at demolishing response-dependence from the
viewpoint of a leading expressivist.

Johnston, Mark. Dispositional Theories of Value. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society supp.
63 (1989): 139174.
Part of an important symposium in which Johnston and others offer different views of responsedependence along the Melbourne-Canberra-Princeton axis.

McDowell, John. Values and Secondary Qualities. In Morality and Objectivity: A Tribute to J. L.

Mackie . Edited by Ted Honderich, 110129. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985.
A very difficult paper but regarded as one of the seminal texts for the contemporary discussion of
response-dependence.

Railton, Peter. Red, Bitter, Good. European Review of Philosophy 3 (1998): 6784.
A critique of response-dependence from a leading naturalist realist.

Smith, Michael. Response-Dependence without Reduction. European Review of Philosophy 3


(1998): 85108.
An attempt to use the notion of response-dependence in the service of a realist and broadly naturalistic
view of morals.

Wiggins, David. A Sensible Subjectivism? In Needs, Values, Truth: Essays in the Philosophy of

Value . By David Wiggins, 185214. Oxford: Blackwell, 1987.


Argues for a position similar to that in McDowell 1985.

Wright, Crispin. Moral Values, Projection, and Secondary Qualities. Proceedings of the

Aristotelian Society supp. 62 (1988): 126.


A demanding but precise and rewarding discussion, arguing against response-dependent accounts of
morals.

Wright, Crispin. Truth and Objectivity . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.
The appendix to Chapter3 is a state-of-the-art survey of response-dependence and the associated

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literature.

CONSTRUCTIVISM
The main contemporary arguments in favor of Kantian constructivism can be found in Korsgaard 1996a,
Korsgaard 1996b, Korsgaard 2008, and Korsgaard 2009. Korsgaard argues that if we didnt value our humanity
we would not be capable of rational action, and tries to use this alleged fact to generate an account of moral
obligation that provides a satisfying metaethical position superior to the standard realist and non-realist
alternatives. It is controversial whether Korsgaard is even arguing for a genuinely metaethical view; see Hussain
and Shah 2006. Enoch 2006 usefully places Korsgaards view in the context of similar views that attempt to
ground normativity in claims about what is constitutive of action.
Enoch, David. Agency, Schmagency: Why Normativity Wont Come From What Is Constitutive of
Action. Philosophical Review 115 (2006): 169197.
[DOI: 10.1215/00318108-115-2-169]
Argues that normativity cannot be grounded in what is constitutive of agency, and includes critical
discussion of Korsgaard as an example of a philosopher who holds such a view.

Hussain, Nadeem, and Nishi Shah. Misunderstanding Metaethics: Korsgaards Rejection of


Realism. In Oxford Studies in Metaethics . Vol. 1. Edited by Russ Schafer-Landau, 265294.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Argues that Korsgaard has failed to provide an alternative to moral realism because she fails to distinguish
between normative judgments and metaethical interpretations of moral judgment. Hussain and Shah have
papers in the same vein in preparation.

Korsgaard, Christine M. Creating the Kingdom of Ends . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University
Press, 1996a.
A collection of articles mainly on the Kantian background to Korsgaards views.

Korsgaard, Christine M. The Sources of Normativity . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press,
1996b.
In the first half of the book Korsgaard works towards her favored view from a historical perspective. The
second half contains critical replies by Cohen, Geuss, Nagel, and Williams, with counter-replies from
Korsgaard herself.

Korsgaard, Christine M. The Constitution of Agency: Essays on Practical Reason and Moral

Psychology . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.


Collects together a number of Korsgaards previously published papers, particularly noteworthy among
them being Realism and Constructivism in 20th Century Moral Philosophy.

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Korsgaard, Christine M. Self-Constitution, Agency, Identity, and Integrity . Oxford: Oxford


University Press, 2009.
Korsgaards most recent extended exposition of her views, based on her 2002 Locke Lectures at Oxford.

NON-REDUCTIVE NATURALISM (CORNELL REALISM)


Non-reductive naturalism (NRN) is a form of moral realism (often called Cornell Realism because many of its
leading protagonists are or were associated with Cornell University). Non-reductive naturalists hold that moral
properties make a genuine and ineliminable contribution to the best explanation of experience (in particular, of
moral belief) and as such count as irreducible but natural. Sturgeon 1985 is a key paper in the NRN tradition; a
good way into the view is to see it as a reply to the skeptical challenge (according to which moral properties and
facts never explain anything) developed in the opening chapters of Harman 1977. The rest of the sources
mentioned here all contribute one way or another to the debate initiated by Harman and Sturgeon: Boyd 1988,
Nelson 2006, Sturgeon 1986a, and Sturgeon 1986b argue in favor of NRN, while Harman 1986 and Leiter 2001
offer critiques. Dworkin 1996 questions Harmans framework for evaluating moral realism.
Boyd, Richard N. How to Be a Moral Realist. In Essays on Moral Realism . Edited by Geoffrey
Sayre-McCord, 181228. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988.
The most detailed working-out of a semantics for NRN.

Dworkin, Ronald. Objectivity and Truth: Youd Better Believe It. Philosophy and Public Affairs
25 (1996): 87139.
[DOI: 10.1111/j.1088-4963.1996.tb00036.x]
Argues that Harmans claim that the test of the objectivity of morals is the capacity of moral facts to figure
in empirical explanations is misconceived.

Harman, Gilbert. The Nature of Morality: An Introduction to Ethics . Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1977.
Chapters 1 and 2 are the locus classicus for the view that moral facts and properties are explanatorily
inefficacious.

Harman, Gilbert. Moral Explanations of Natural Facts: Can Moral Claims Be Tested against Moral
Reality? Southern Journal of Philosophy 24 (1986): 5768.
A reply to Sturgeon 1985.

Leiter, Brian. Moral Facts and Best Explanations. Social Philosophy and Policy 18 (2001):
79101.
[DOI: 10.1017/S0265052500002910]
A withering critique of the NRN idea that moral facts have a genuine and indispensable explanatory role.

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Nelson, Mark T. Moral Realism and Program Explanation. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84
(2006): 417428.
[DOI: 10.1080/00048400600895946]
Argues that the Jackson-Pettit notion of program explanation can aid NRN in replying to the challenge of
Harman 1977.

Sturgeon, Nicholas. Moral Explanations. In Morality, Reason, and Truth . Edited by David Copp
and David Zimmerman, 4978. Rowman and Allanheld, 1985.
The locus classicus for the view that moral facts and properties are explanatorily efficacious.

Sturgeon, Nicholas. Harman on Moral Explanations of Natural Facts. Southern Journal of

Philosophy 24 (1986a): 6978.


A reply to Harman 1986, which critiques Sturgeon 1985.

Sturgeon, Nicholas. What Difference Does It Make Whether Moral Realism Is True? Southern

Journal of Philosophy 24 (1986b): 115142.


Further development of the NRN view defended in Sturgeon 1985.

Moral Twin Earth


NRN aspires to a form of cognitivist realism with a number of attractive features. Since it is naturalist, it avoids
Mackie-style arguments from queerness, but since it eschews the idea that moral expressions are synonymous
with naturalistic expressions, it avoids whatever version of the open question argument survives the standard
criticisms. In a series of papers (Horgan and Timmons 1990, Horgan and Timmons 1992a, Horgan and
Timmons 1992b, Horgan and Timmons 2000) Terence Horgan and Mark Timmons have argued that this
aspiration cannot be satisfied. Copp 2000 and van Roojen 2006 offer critiques of the moral twin-earth
argument.
Copp, David. Milk, Honey, and the Good Life on Moral Twin Earth. Synthese 124 (2000):
113137.
[DOI: 10.1023/A:1005278727197]
An attempt to deflate the moral twin earth argument.

Horgan, Terence, and Mark Timmons. New Wave Moral Realism Meets Moral Twin Earth. Journal

of Philosophical Research 16 (1990): 447465.


This paper argues that ifas NRN hopesthe semantics of moral expressions can be modeled on the
standard Kripke-Putnam semantics for natural kind terms, the twin earth thought experiment devised by
Putnam for natural kind terms should yield the same results for moral terms. By describing a moral
twin-earth scenario, the paper argues that in fact the natural kind case is radically different from the moral

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case.

Horgan, Terence, and Mark Timmons. Troubles on Moral Twin Earth: Moral Queerness Revived.

Synthese 92 (1992a): 221260.


[DOI: 10.1007/BF00414300]
Takes the argument of Horgan and Timmons 1990 further, by arguing that a form of the argument from
queerness survives to haunt NRN.

Horgan, Terence, and Mark Timmons. Troubles for New Wave Moral Semantics: The OpenQuestion Argument Revived. Philosophical Papers 21 (1992b): 153175.
Takes the argument of Horgan and Timmons 1990 further, by arguing that a form of the open question
argument survives to haunt NRN.

Horgan, Terrence, and Mark Timmons. Copping Out on Moral Twin Earth. Synthese 124 (2000):
139152.
[DOI: 10.1023/A:1005234212937]
A response to Copp 2000.

Sayre-McCord, Geoffrey. Good on Twin-Earth. Philosophical Issues 8 (1997): 267292.


[DOI: 10.2307/1523011]
Offers a critique of the twin-earth argument.

van Roojen, Mark. Knowing Enough to Disagree: A New Response to the Moral Twin Earth
Argument. In Oxford Studies in Metaethics . Vol. 1. Edited by Russ Schafer-Landau, 161194.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Attempts to develop a semantics for a realist view capable of deflecting the moral twin earth argument.

REDUCTIVE NATURALIST REALISM


Reductive naturalist realism attempts to reduce moral properties to other natural properties (e.g. rightness
might be reduced to conduciveness to human well-being). It comes in two main varieties, synthetic (in which no
appeal is made to analytic equivalence between moral and other naturalistic terminology) and analytic (in which
there is an appeal to a claimed analytic equivalence. The foremost contemporary reductionist naturalist is Peter
Railton, while the foremost proponents of the analytic variety of naturalist reductionism are Frank Jackson and
Philip Pettit.
Railtons Reductive Naturalism

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Railton proposes a two-step reductive account of moral rightness. First, the notion of an agents well-being is
identified with what the agent would desire to desire if he were in conditions of full factual information and
perfect instrumental rationality. Second, moral rightness is identified with what is instrumentally rational from a
social point of view. The identities are delivered courtesy of a reforming definition, in essence an empirical
hypothesis that is justified on the basis of enabling explanations of the relevant phenomena. The proposed
reduction is thus synthetic in nature. See Railton 1986a, Railton 1986b, Railton 1989, and Railton 2003. Brandt
1979 is useful background, while Wiggins 1992, Wiggins 1993, and Sobel 1994 offer stimulating critiques.
Brandt, Richard B. A Theory of the Good and Right . New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.
The early chapters develop the notion of reforming definition utilized by Railton.

Railton, Peter. Moral Realism. Philosophical Review 95 (1986a): 163207.


[DOI: 10.2307/2185589]
The canonical statement of Railtons naturalist reductive realism.

Railton, Peter. Facts and Values. Philosophical Topics 14 (1986b): 531.


Further elaboration of the view proposed in Railton 1986a.

Railton, Peter. Naturalism and Prescriptivity. Social Philosophy and Policy 7 (1989): 151174.
[DOI: 10.1017/S0265052500001060]
Further elaboration of Railtons view, with the emphasis on its externalist account of the normativity of
moral judgment.

Railton, Peter. Facts, Values, and Norms: Essays towards a Morality of Consequence . Cambridge,
UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Collects together Railtons most important contributions to metaethics (and also normative ethics).

Sobel, David. Full-Information Accounts of Well-Being. Ethics 104 (1994): 784810.


[DOI: 10.1086/293655]
An illuminating critique of reductive accounts of well-being, Railtons included. A very useful paper for
metaethicists unfamiliar with the debates in normative ethics about the constitution of well-being.

Wiggins, David. Ayer on Morality and Feeling: From Subjectivism to Emotivism and Back Again.
In The Philosophy of A. J. Ayer . Edited by Lewis E. Hahn, 633660. La Salle, IL: Open Court,
1992.
Argues that even synthetic naturalism is susceptible to a sophisticated descendent of Moores
open-question argument.

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Wiggins, David. A Neglected Position? In Reality, Representation, and Projection . Edited by John
Haldane and Crispin Wright, 329338. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Part of an important four-paper symposium in which Railton and Wiggins battle it out.

Analytic Moral Functionalism


Jackson and Pettit attempt a reductive account of moral properties that proceeds by applying the method of
conceptual analysis invented by Frank Ramsey and adopted by David Lewis in the service of a reductive account
of the mental (see Lewis 1972). See Jackson 1992, Jackson 1998, and Jackson and Pettit 1995. For criticism see
Smith 1994, Zangwill 2000, and Horgan and Timmons 2009. McFarland and Miller 1998 tries to deflect Smith
1994.
Horgan, Terry, and Mark Timmons. Analytic Moral Functionalism Meets Moral Twin-Earth. In

Minds, Ethics, and Conditionals: Themes from the Philosophy of Frank Jackson . Edited by Ian
Ravenscroft, 221236. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Horgan and Timmons attempt to adapt their well-known moral twin-earth argument (previously used
against synthetic naturalism) against Jacksons analytic functionalism. There is a reply by Jackson in the
same volume.

Jackson, Frank. Critical Notice of Susan Hurleys Natural Reasons . Australasian Journal of

Philosophy 70 (1992): 475488.


Contains a basic statement of the analytic functionalist approach in the moral case. Reprinted in Fisher and
Kirchin 2006 (cited under Textbooks and Anthologies), pp. 200214.

Jackson, Frank. From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defence of Conceptual Analysis . Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1998.
The most sustained exposition of Jacksons approach to conceptual analysis and its application to the
moral case.

Jackson, Frank, and Philip Pettit. Moral Functionalism and Moral Motivation. Philosophical

Quarterly 45 (1995): 2040.


[DOI: 10.2307/2219846]
An attempt to articulate an internalist view of moral judgment and motivation that can serve as a
component of analytic functionalism.

Lewis, David. Psychophysical and Theoretical Identifications. Australasian Journal of Philosophy


50 (1972): 249258.
An accessible account of how the method of conceptual analysis utilized by Jackson applies in the case of
psychological properties.

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McFarland, Duncan, and Alexander Miller. Response-Dependence without Reduction?

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1998): 407425.


[DOI: 10.1080/00048409812348531]
Attempts to reply to Smiths permutation problem on behalf of analytic functionalism.

Smith, Michael. The Moral Problem . Oxford: Blackwell, 1994.


Chapter 2 argues that analytic functionalist accounts of moral terms are vitiated by what Smith terms the
Permutation Problem.

Zangwill, Nick. Against Analytic Moral Functionalism. Ratio 13 (2000): 275286.


[DOI: 10.1111/1467-9329.00127]
Argues that the analytic functionalist has problems accommodating certain sorts of moral disagreement.

CONTEMPORARY NON-NATURALISM
Contemporary non-naturalists reject both expressivism and naturalist realism, but argue that non-naturalist
cognitivism neednt fall prey to the worries that beset the non-naturalist intuitionism proposed by Moore and his
followers in the early 20th century. The main defenders of contemporary non-naturalism are John McDowell and
David Wiggins (but see also Schafer-Landau 2003).
Wiggins and McDowell
David Wiggins and John McDowell are the founding fathers of contemporary British non-naturalist realism,
basing their work on a range of philosophers, including Aristotle and Wittgenstein; see Wiggins 1987, Wiggins
1991, and McDowell 1998. Wright 1992, Arrington 1989, Lang 2001, and Sosa 2001 offer critiques of varying
strength and specificity.
Arrington, Robert L. Rationalism, Realism and Relativism . Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press,
1989.
Chapter 4 contains a good discussion of non-naturalist realism.

Lang, Gerald. The Rule-Following Considerations and Metaethics; Some False Moves. European

Journal of Philosophy 9 (2001): 190209.


[DOI: 10.1111/1468-0378.00135]
A clear and insightful discussion of the role of the rule-following considerations in arguments for
metaethical realism.

McDowell, John. Mind, Value, and Reality . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 1998.
Collects most of McDowells important papers on metaethics. See especially Values and Secondary

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Qualities, Virtue and Reason, Non-Cognitivism and Rule-Following, Two Sorts of Naturalism, and
Projectivism and Truth in Ethics.

Schafer-Landau, Russ. Moral Realism: A Defence . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.
A rare example of a North American philosopher arguing in favor of non-naturalist realism.

Sosa, David. Pathetic Ethics. In Objectivity in Law and Morals . Edited by Brian Leiter, 287329.
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
An extended critique of modern non-naturalism. Reprinted in Fisher and Kirchin 2006 (cited under
Textbooks and Anthologies), pp. 241284.

Wiggins, David. A Sensible Subjectivism. In Needs, Values, Truth: Essays in the Philosophy of

Value . By David Wiggins, 185214. Oxford: Blackwell, 1987.


A paper arguing that subjectivity can be implicated in the truth-conditions of normative statements
without realism necessarily being impugned. Should be read in conjunction with McDowell 1985 (cited
under Error Theory) and Wright 1988 (cited under Response Dependence).

Wiggins, David. Moral Cognitivism, Moral Relativism and Motivating Moral Beliefs. Proceedings

of the Aristotelian Society 91 (1991): 6185.


A brief introduction to Wigginss non-naturalist and anti-Humean metaethic.

Wright, Crispin. Truth and Objectivity . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.
Chapter 5 contains a critique of Wigginss notion of vindicatory explanation.

Moral Particularism
Moral particularism is the view that the rationality of moral thought and talk does not depend on the existence of
moral principles. It is often associated with ethical non-naturalism (in particular McDowells papers Virtue and
Reason and Non-Cognitivism and Rule-Following; see McDowell 1998, cited in Wiggins and McDowell) and is
opposed by moral generalism. The foremost contemporary exponent of moral particularism is Jonathan Dancy
(Dancy 2004, Dancy 2009). Hooker and Little 2000 offers a representative collection of articles both for and
against particularism.
Dancy, Jonathan. Ethics without Principles . Oxford: Clarendon, 2004.
Dancys latest and most sustained exposition and defense of moral particularism, which he attempts to
justify on the basis of a view of reasons that he calls reasons-holism.

Dancy, Jonathan. Moral Particularism. In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy . Edited by Edward


N. Zalta. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, 2009.

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Probably the best introductory survey on moral particularism and generalism.

Hooker, Brad, and Margaret O. Little, eds. Moral Particularism . Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2000.
A high-level collection consisting of twelve original articles by leading contributors to the particularismgeneralism debate.

Lance, Mark N., Matjaz Potrc, and Vojko Strahovik, eds. Challenging Moral Particularism . London:
Routledge, 2007.
A collection of twelve papers by leading protagonists in the moral particularism debate, including Hooker,
Dancy, McNaughton, Bakhurst, and others.

McKeever, Sean, and Michael Ridge. Principled Ethics . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
[DOI: 10.1093/0199290652.001.0001]
A detailed defense of a form of moral generalism.

MORAL PSYCHOLOGY
Moral psychology can be taken to concern issues about moral motivation, reasons to act morally, and the
nature of the relationship between moral judgment and motivation. For ease of presentation it can be broken
down into three (interrelated) areas. An accessible account of how issues in moral psychology potentially impact
on debates between moral realists and their opponents can be found in Chapter1 of Smith 1994.
Internalism and Externalism
Internalists (sometimes called motivational internalists) typically hold that there is a necessary, conceptual, and
a priori relationship between moral judgment and motivation to act. For example, in the works mentioned here,
Smith argues that it is a conceptual a priori truth that a practically rational agent who makes a moral judgment
will be motivated to act accordingly. Stratton-Lake 1999 and Dreier 2000 develop objections to Smiths
argument, and Dancy 1995 attempts to undermine Smiths whole conception of the internalist-externalist
debate, while Brink 1989 and Zangwill 2003 develop externalist alternatives. (Note that internalism and
externalism do not mean the same in metaethics as they mean in epistemology or the philosophy of mind.)
Brink, David O. Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge
University Press, 1989.
An extended defense of a naturalist and externalist view of morals. For internalism and externalism, see
Chapter3 in particular.

Dancy, Jonathan. Why There Is Really No Such Thing as the Theory of Motivation. Proceedings of

the Aristotelian Society 95 (1995): 118.

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An attempt to undermine Smiths conception of debates between internalism and externalism.

Dreier, James. Dispositions and Fetishes: Externalist Models of Moral Motivation. Philosophy

and Phenomenological Research 61 (2000): 619638.


[DOI: 10.2307/2653615]
Attempts to show that an externalist can deflect the accusation in Smith 1994 and Smith 1996a that
externalism must view morally virtuous agents as moral fetishists. Reprinted in Fisher and Kirchin 2006
(cited under Textbooks and Anthologies), pp. 547566.

Smith, Michael. The Moral Problem . Oxford: Blackwell, 1994.


The first half of Chapter3 contains an extremely useful taxonomy of different forms and strengths of
internalism together with a widely discussed argument in favor of internalism.

Smith, Michael. The Argument for Internalism: A Reply to Miller. Analysis 56 (1996a):
175183.
[DOI: 10.1111/j.0003-2638.1996.00175.x]
Contains some very helpful clarification of the argument for internalism in Smith 1994.

Smith, Michael. Internalisms Wheel. In Truth in Ethics . Edited by Brad Hooker, 6994. Oxford:
Blackwell, 1996b.
A very useful narrative that traces the development of internalism in modern metaethics.

Stratton-Lake, Philip. Why Externalism Is Not a Problem for Intuitionists. Proceedings of the

Aristotelian Society 99 (1999): 7790.


[DOI: 10.1111/1467-9264.00046]
Contains an interesting response to the argument for internalism in Smith 1994.

Zangwill, Nick. Externalist Moral Motivation. American Philosophical Quarterly 40 (2003):


143154.
Expounds and defends a form of motivational externalism.

Rationalism and Anti-Rationalism


Rationalists (as defined in Smith 1994) hold that our concept of a moral requirement is a concept of a rational
requirement, so that moral facts are facts about reasons for action. Smith argues in favor of rationalism, and
suggests that rationalism entails a form of motivational internalism. Foot 2002 is a canonical source for
anti-rationalism, while Railton 1986 defends a form of anti-rationalism. Morgan 2006 provides an excellent
introduction to the debate.

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Foot, Philippa. Morality as a System of Hypothetical Imperatives. In Virtues and Vices and Other

Essays in Moral Philosophy . By Philippa Foot, 157173. Oxford: Clarendon, 2002.


A classic text in the anti-rationalist tradition. First published in 1978.

Morgan, Seiriol. Naturalism and Normativity. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72


(2006): 319345.
[DOI: 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2006.tb00563.x]
Argues that anti-rationalist naturalism does not provide a plausible account of the normativity of morals.

Railton, Peter. Moral Realism. Philosophical Review 95 (1986): 163207.


[DOI: 10.2307/2185589]
Section 5 defends a form of anti-rationalism.

Smith, Michael. The Moral Problem . Oxford: Blackwell, 1994.


The second half of Chapter3 builds on the argument of the first half to defend a form of rationalism.

The Humean Theory of Motivation


The Humean Theory of Motivation is the view that motivation is always a matter of having both means-end
beliefs and desires, where these are distinct existences (in the sense that for any pair consisting of a belief and
a desire, it is at least possible to have one without the other). For a good account of how the Humean Theory of
Motivation together with the internalist-externalist debate impacts on central metaethical issues, see Chapter 1
of Smith 1994 (cited in Rationalism and Anti-Rationalism). For defenses of Humeanism, see Smith 1987 and
Smith 1988. For Anti-Humeanism, see McDowell 1998, Platts 1979, and Little 1997.
Little, Margaret O. Virtue as Knowledge: Objections from the Philosophy of Mind. Nos 31
(1997): 5977.
Argues that metaethical positions that view virtue as a kind of knowledge are untouched by the
considerations about the respective directions of fit of beliefs and desires standardly adverted to by
defenders of Humeanism.

McDowell, John. Mind, Value, and Reality . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.
The essays Virtue and Reason and Non-Cognitivism and Rule-Following contain canonical statements
of the anti-Humean view.

Miller, Alex. An Introduction to Contemporary Metaethics . Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2003.


Section 10.4 develops a critique of Smiths argument for Humeanism.

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Pettit, Philip. Humeans, Anti-Humeans, and Motivation. Mind 96 (1987): 530533.


Argues that Smith 1987 fails to highlight the central issue at stake between Humeanism and
anti-Humeanism and fails to settle the debate between them. Reprinted in Fisher and Kirchin 2006 (cited
under Textbooks and Anthologies), pp. 602605.

Platts, Mark. Ways of Meaning: An Introduction to a Philosophy of Language . London: Routledge


and Kegan Paul, 1979.
Chapter 10, Moral Reality, contains a very useful discussion of the non-naturalist realist approach to
morality and how it bears on issues about motivation.

Smith, Michael. The Humean Theory of Motivation. Mind 96 (1987): 3661.


A closely argued paper in defense of the Humean Theory. A revised version of the paper appears as
Chapter4 of Smith 1994 (cited under Textbooks and Anthologies). Reprinted in Fisher and Kirchin 2006
(cited under Textbooks and Anthologies), pp. 575601.

Smith, Michael. On Humeans, Anti-Humeans, and Motivation: A Reply to Pettit. Mind 97 (1988):
589595.
An attempted reply to Pettit 1987. Reprinted in Fisher and Kirchin 2006 (cited under Textbooks and
Anthologies), pp. 606614.

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