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A New Route from Moral Disagreement to Moral Skepticism

  • OLLE RISBERG (a1) and FOLKE TERSMAN (a2)

Abstract

Moral disagreement is sometimes thought to pose problems for moral realism because it shows that we cannot achieve knowledge of the moral facts the realists posit. In particular, it is ‘fundamental’ moral disagreement—that is, disagreement that is not due to distorting factors such as ignorance of relevant nonmoral facts, bad reasoning skills, or the like—that is supposed to generate skeptical implications. In this paper, we show that this version of the disagreement challenge is flawed as it stands. The reason is that the epistemic assumptions it requires are incompatible with the possibility of fundamental disagreement. However, we also present an alternative reconstruction of the challenge that avoids the problem. The challenge we present crucially invokes the principle that knowledge requires ‘adherence’. While that requirement is usually not discussed in this context, we argue that it provides a promising explanation of why disagreement sometimes leads to skepticism.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Footnotes

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Thanks to Billy Dunaway, David Enoch, Zoe Johnson King, David Killoren, Michael Klenk, Brian Leiter, Don Loeb, Jonathan Matheson, Victor Moberger, and Richard Rowland for valuable comments on preliminary drafts. We are also grateful to two anonymous reviewers whose perceptive criticisms have led to significant improvements.

Footnotes

References

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A New Route from Moral Disagreement to Moral Skepticism

  • OLLE RISBERG (a1) and FOLKE TERSMAN (a2)

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