Angsty Metaethics Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 21, 2019
  • Blanchard, Joshua
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy
  • Some disagreements evoke philosophical angst: the judgment that the truth of some thesis is essential for the meaning or intelligibility of our lives, combined with the worry that it might be false. Chapter 1 develops an account of this attitude, its phenomenology, and its normative status in contrast to related attitudes. Philosophical angst illuminates what is at stake in debates ranging from the metaphysics of reasons to the relationship between God and meaning. Chapter 2 defends the motivation and coherence of the project. I give a general argument for expecting that there are significant evaluative differences in the implications of competing metaethical theories: radically different accounts of important domains probably differ in evaluative upshot. I then respond to three puzzles for making evaluative judgments about metaethics. Chapter 3 defends pro-realism, the view that it is much better if moral realism is true rather than any of its rivals. First, moral realism vindicates the dignified moral status described by the best normative moral theories, and so it is much better if realism rather than nihilism is true. Second, moral realism secures a desirable independence for moral justification that is different in kind from anti-realistic independence. Chapter 4 rebuts arguments that it is better if antirealism is true. First, there are reasons for thinking that morality itself would be worse if realism were true. Second, there are moral reasons for thinking we shouldn’t endorse realism. I argue that such arguments either rely on implausible grounding principles or they overgeneralize to all metaethical projects. Although I have raised questions of angst and value, one might think that this is irrelevant to truth. Chapter 5 shows that this reasonable impulse is mistaken. Inferences from It is better if p to It is the case that p are appropriate in contexts of inquiry in which theorists are responsible for accommodating not only the non-evaluative features of some domain, but the evaluative features as well. Metaethics is one such context.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Wolf, Susan
  • Neta, Ram
  • Shafer-Landau, Russ
  • Preston-Roedder, Ryan
  • Sayre-McCord, Geoffrey
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2018

This work has no parents.