Realism and Objectivity

Authored by: Billy Dunaway

The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138812208
eBook ISBN: 9781315213217
Adobe ISBN:


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‘Realism’ and ‘objectivity’ are philosophers’ terms of art with no strict synonyms in ordinary English. This has not prevented philosophers from using these terms with confidence approaching that of a native speaker. Most will not, for instance, hesitate to label a Subjectivist view of morality (on which an act is wrong for a subject just in case the subject herself disapproves of performing the act) as an irrealist view. And they will likely add that morality is not an objective matter according to the Subjectivist. Similarly, they will agree over judgments about Instrumentalism in science, and Idealism about the material world. But broad agreement over simple cases does not by itself select a single meaning for a term of art, and in fact, philosophers disagree significantly over the application of these terms to anything beyond simple cases, offering wildly divergent general accounts of the meaning of these terms.

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