Objectivity in Ethics
Conference 31 March - 1 April, 2016
Most of us agree that moral norms are, or should be, more objective than aesthetic judgements or expressions of taste. Ordinary moral judgements contain a claim to objectivity. Their validity is thought to be independent from one’s individual desires or inclinations.
However, philosophers disagree deeply about nearly all aspects of objectivity in ethics. Should we analyse the objectivity of moral judgements in terms of truth or falsity? If so, how should we understand moral truth? How would moral properties fit into our science-based view of the world? Should a conception of moral objectivity be influenced by facts about human nature? Can the empirical sciences contribute to a better understanding of morality’s purported objectivity?
The aim of this two-day conference is to explore the diversity of philosophical doctrines about moral objectivity, and to assess their philosophical and scientific merits. We welcome both presenting and non-presenting participants. Submitted abstracts were reviewed (double-blind) by a review committee. Abstracts have been submitted on the following subthemes:
1. The functions of moral objectivity
- Why do we appeal to objectivity in our moral practices?
- What theoretical functions do appeals to moral objectivity serve?
- Are claims to objectivity in ethics on a par with claims to objectivity in the sciences?
2. The metaphysics of moral objectivity
- What grounds moral objectivity?
- Does moral objectivity presuppose the existence of mind-independent moral facts or truths?
- How do moral objectivity and moral truth relate?
3. Moral objectivity and human nature
- How should we conceive of moral objectivity given that we are evolved – and evolving – creatures?
- Do some moral values attain objectivity in virtue of our species-typical needs and preferences?
- Are there objective facts about what constitutes the good life? Could there be a science of human flourishing?
4. The scientific perspective
- Are objective moral facts and judgements consistent with our best scientific theories?
- Can the question whether moral facts and judgements are objective be settled via empirical means?
- Is moral objectivity threatened by evolutionary explanations of morality?
The invited speakers - Alan Gibbard, Sharon Street, Catherine Wilson and Sophie-Grace Chappell - will each give a keynote lecture on one of the subthemes.
Abstract submission has closed.
Registration has closed.