Moral Reality

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We typically assume that the standard for what is beautiful lies in the eye of the beholder. Yet this is not the case when we consider morality; what we deem morally good is not usually a matter of opinion. Such thoughts push us toward being realists about moral properties, but a cogent theory of moral realism has long been an elusive philosophical goal.

Paul Bloomfield here offers a rigorous defense of moral realism, developing an ontology for morality that models the property of being morally good on the property of being physically healthy. The model is assembled systematically; it first presents the metaphysics of healthiness and goodness, then explains our epistemic access to properties such as these, adds a complementary analysis of the semantics and syntax of moral discourse, and finishes with a discussion of how we become motivated to act morally. Bloomfield closely attends to the traditional challenges facing moral realism, and the discussion nimbly ranges from modern medical theory to ancient theories of virtue, and from animal navigation to the nature of normativity.

Maintaining a highly readable style throughout, Moral Reality yields one of the most compelling theories of moral realism to date and will appeal to philosophers working on issues in metaphysics or moral philosophy.

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Editorial Reviews

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"[P]resents a clear, elegant, and enjoyable argument in favor of moral realism. Anybody with serious interest in metaethics should read it, if only to familiarize themselves with a strain of realist argument that is likely to be influential in future debates."—Mind

"The difference between being good and bad, Bloomfield argues, is in many ways like the difference between being healthy and unhealthy. You may not care about either difference, but that does not make the differences any less real. An engaging, original, uncompromising, and ultimately pretty convincing defense of moral realism."—David Schmidtz, University of Arizona

"Bloomfield masterfully articulates and defends a metaethical theory that represents the most plausible form of moral realism now on offer. He deftly engages certain metaphysical and linguistic similarities between the properties of moral goodness and physical healthiness, forcefully arguing that there is as much reason to be a realist about morals as there is to be a realist about health. This book is a pleasure to read and will surely have a significant impact on contemporary metaethical debate."—Mark Timmons, University of Memphis

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195172393
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/12/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 5.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Protrepticus 3
1 Moral Metaphysics: Reality Unobserved 25
The Thesis 25
A Primer on Being Healthy 29
Healthiness, Conventions, and Relativism 33
Healthiness and Goodness 38
Supervenience and Reduction 43
Blackburn's Challenge to Moral Realism via Supervenience 48
2 Moral Epistemology: The Skill of Virtue 56
Outline for the Logos of Skillful Practice 60
Medical, Navigational, and Moral Theories 74
Stubborn Disagreement in Face of the Facts 88
Aristotle's Rejection of Virtues as Skills 92
3 Moral Language: The "Good" Rules 103
Following the Linguistic Turn 103
Semantics 108
Syntax 128
4 Moral Practicality: Externalism sans Magnetism 153
The Absurdity of Magnetic Tofu 153
Intuitions behind Internalism 156
Hume and Williams Meet Thrasymachus 159
Kant, Nagel, and Korsgaard Meet Anscombe 164
A Little Bit of Jimmy Carter in All of Us? 170
App Entropy, Healthiness, and Goodness 179
Bibliography 195
Index 205
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