Philosophy Colloquium - Peter Railton, University of Michigan
Speaker(s)Peter Railton, University of Michigan
Sentimentalism and Realism in Epistemology and EthicsOver the past two decades in meta-ethics, what had been a debate between realists, on the one hand, and irrealists or anti-realists, on the other, has evolved into a debate among forms of realism, with a surprisingly wide range of philosophers claiming to be realists of some sort about morality. But the claim is perhaps made less surprising by the fact that many of these philosophers interpret realism in a minimalist, fictionalist, or quasi-realist way-they seek to preserve the surface realism of moral discourse while avoiding the seeming metaphysical or epistemological entanglements of more robust forms of realism. Central to these debates has been a distinction between internalist and externalist accounts of the relation between moral judgment and motivation. Once the competing positions have been fully elaborated, however, it has become increasingly difficult to see exactly what is at stake in these debates, and a sense that the available arguments have led to a standstill has begun to set in. Perhaps for this reason, the appearance of a newcomer on the meta-ethical scene seems welcome.