Friday, October 18, 2013

New Paper: Necessary Moral Truths and Theistic Metaethics

A paper of mine has recently been accepted for publication in the journal SOPHIA. This one deals with what I call the "necessary truth objection" to theistic metaethics. The objection holds, roughly, that if a moral truth is necessary then it does not need or have an explanation, which is contrary to the central claim of theistic metaethics. In the paper, I try to defend the necessary truth objection from some of its recent critics. The paper is probably not as strong as I would like it to be, but I still think it makes some interesting points.

Here are the full details, along with links to preprint versions (I'll link to the published version once it becomes available):

Title: Necessary Moral Truths and Theistic Metaethics (Preprint on and
Journal: SOPHIA, DOI: 10.1007/s11841-013-0390-0 
Abstract: Theistic metaethics usually places one key restriction on the explanation of moral facts, namely: every moral fact must ultimately be explained by some fact about God. The problem is that the widely-held belief that some moral truths are necessary truths undermines this claim. If a moral truth is necessary, then it seems like it neither needs, nor has an explanation. Or so the objection typically goes. Recently, two proponents of theistic metaethics — William Lane Craig and Mark Murphy — have argued that this objection is flawed. They claim that even if a truth is necessary, it does not follow that it neither needs nor has an explanation. In this article, I challenge Craig and Murphy’s reasoning on three main grounds. First, I argue that the counterexamples they use to undermine the necessary truth objection to theistic metaethics are flawed. While they may provide some support for the notion that necessary truths can be explained, they do not provide support for the notion that necessary moral truths can be explained. Second, I argue that the principles of explanation that Murphy and Craig use to support theistic metaethics are either question-begging (in the case of Murphy) or improperly motivated (in the case of Craig). And third, I provide a general defence of the claim that necessary moral truths neither need nor have an explanation

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