Taking moral indeterminacy seriously : in defence of compatibility between moral realism and indeterminacy
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Moral indeterminacy appears to be incompatible with moral realism at first glance because moral realists believe that there are objective moral facts in the world, which seem determinate. Given the commitment to objective moral facts, moral realists would want to argue that there can be a considerable amount of convergence on moral matters. However, moral disagreement is too prevalent for realists to be optimistic that there will be convergence sometime in the future. Some moral disagreements seem to remain irresolvable or even faultless. Since it is reasonable to think that moral disagreements arise because there is indeterminacy, moral realists would want to explain indeterminacy without any inconsistency or incompatibility. I argue that moral realism is compatible with every kind of indeterminacy: metaphysical indeterminacy, semantic indeterminacy, and epistemic indeterminacy. What I contribute to indeterminacy and moral realism debate is that, in contrast with how some philosophers argue that all moral indeterminacy can be reduced to metaphysical indeterminacy or epistemicism, I argue that every kind of indeterminacy has its own place. I show that each kind of indeterminacy is helpful for moral realists to explain different types of moral disagreement: faultless moral disagreement can be explained through semantic indeterminacy; irresolvable moral disagreement can be explained through metaphysical indeterminacy; resolvable disagreement can be explained through epistemicism. The upshot of my research is that moral realists can still uphold their tenets on moral objectivity and truth while embracing indeterminacy, the cause of disagreement, at the same time. If the strength of a metaethical theory is measured by how much explanation it can provide, my dissertation shows that moral realism wins over anti-realism in this regard.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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