Metaethics  book cover
1st Edition


Edited By

Russ Shafer-Landau

ISBN 9780415439206
Published May 28, 2008 by Routledge
1396 Pages

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Book Description

Metaethics is the branch of knowledge that considers the foundational issues of morality, and deals especially with the nature of ethical statements. Philosophers doing metaethics ask vital and fundamental questions such as these:

• is morality merely conventional, or are there objective standards of right and wrong?

• how can we gain moral knowledge?

• why should we be moral?

• can there be a science of morality?

Over the past thirty years, there has been a great surge of interest in metaethics. Almost every university offers courses in this area; new philosophical societies have formed that focus on metaethical issues; and an ever-increasing number of books and research articles attest to the growing interest in the field.

Metaethics flourishes now as it has never done before and this new title in the Routledge series, Critical Concepts in Philosophy, meets the need for an authoritative reference work to make sense of the subject’s vast literature and the continuing explosion in research output. Edited by Russ Shafer-Landau, a prominent scholar in the field, this new Routledge Major Work is a four-volume collection of classic and contemporary contributions that cover all of the major issues in metaethics.

The first of the four volumes is dedicated to the historical antecedents of current metaethical thinking. The second volume covers the central theories within metaethics. The third and fourth volumes bring together the most important thinking on all of the key questions that are the focus of contemporary research in metaethics. Together, the four volumes provide a one-stop resource for all interested researchers, teachers, and students to gain a thorough understanding of from where this thriving subdiscipline has emerged, and where it is today.

With a large, comprehensive introduction, newly written by the editor, which place the collected material in its historical and intellectual context, Metaethics is an essential work of reference and is destined to be valued by metaethicists—as well as those working in allied areas such as metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind—as a vital research tool.

Table of Contents


1. G. E. Moore, ‘The Subject Matter of Ethics’, Principia Ethica (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 53–5, 57–72.

2. H. A. Prichard, ‘Does Moral Philosophy Rest on a Mistake?’, Mind, 21, 1912, pp. 21–37.

3. W. D. Ross, ‘What Makes Right Acts Right?’, The Right and the Good (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1930), pp. 16–47.

4. A. J. Ayer, ‘A Critique of Ethics’, Language, Truth, and Logic (Dover Publications, 1952), pp. 102–14.

5. W. K. Frankena, ‘The Naturalistic Fallacy’, Mind, 48, 1939, pp. 464–77.

6. C. L. Stevenson, ‘The Emotive Meaning of Ethical Terms’, Mind, 46, 1937, pp. 14–31.

7. Ludwig Wittgenstein, ‘A Lecture on Ethics’, Philosophical Review, 74, 1965, pp. 3–11.

8. Philippa Foot, ‘Moral Beliefs’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 59, 1958–9, pp. 83–104.

9. R. M. Hare, ‘A Moral Argument’, Freedom and Reason (Oxford: Oxford University Press: 1963), pp. 86–111.

10. W. D. Falk, ‘"Ought" and Motivation’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 48, 1947–8, pp. 111–38.

11. Iris Murdoch, ‘The Sovereignty of Good Over Other Concepts’, The Sovereignty of Good (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970), pp. 77–104.

12. W. K. Frankena, ‘Obligation and Motivation in Recent Moral Philosophy’, in A. I. Melden (ed.), Essays in Moral Philosophy (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1958), pp. 40–81.

13. John Rawls, ‘Outline of a Decision Procedure for Ethics’, Philosophical Review, 60, 1951, pp. 177–97.

14. Roderick Firth, ‘Ethical Absolutism and the Ideal Observer’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 12, 1952, pp. 317–45.

15. P. T. Geach, ‘Ascriptivism’, Philosophical Review, 69, 2, 1960, pp. 221–5.


Part One: Error Theories

16. J. L. Mackie, ‘The Subjectivity of Values’, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (London: Penguin, 1977), pp. 15–18, 27–9, 30–43, 45.

17. Richard Garner, ‘On the Genuine Queerness of Moral Properties and Facts’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 68, 1990, pp. 137–46.

18. Richard Joyce, The Myth of Morality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 1–5, 8, 42–4, 49, 51, 80–5, 88–91, 100.

19. Stephen Schiffer, ‘Meaning and Value’, The Journal of Philosophy, 87, 11, Nov. 1990, pp. 602–14.

Part Two: Expressivism

20. Simon Blackburn, ‘How to Be an Ethical Anti-Realist’, Essays in Quasi-Realism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 166–81.

21. Allan Gibbard, ‘The Reasons of a Living Being’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Association, 62, 2002, pp. 49–60.

22. Mark Timmons, ‘The Argument from Moral Error’, Morality Without Foundations (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 71–106.

23. Michael Ridge, ‘Ecumenical Expressivism: the Best of Both Worlds?’, Oxford Studies in Metaethics, 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007) pp. 51–76.

Part Three: Constructivism

24. Gilbert Harman, ‘Moral Relativism Defended’, Philosophical Review, 85, 1975, pp. 3–22.

25. Ronald Milo, ‘Contractarian Constructivism’, Journal of Philosophy, 92, 1995, pp. 181–204.

26. David Copp, ‘Does Moral Theory Need the Concept of Society?’, Analyse und Kritik, 19, 1997, pp. 189–212.

27. Christine Korsgaard, The Authority of Reflection (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 91–4, 96–108, 112–26, 128–30.

28.John McDowell, ‘Values and Secondary Qualities’, in Ted Honderich (ed.), Morality and Objectivity (London: Routledge, 1985), pp. 110–29.

Part Four: Moral Realism

29. Michael Smith, ‘Realism’, in Peter Singer (ed.), A Companion to Ethics (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1990), pp. 399–410.

30. Peter Railton, ‘Moral Realism’, Philosophical Review, 95, 1986, pp. 163–207.

31. Richard N. Boyd, ‘How To Be a Moral Realist’, in Geoffrey Sayre-McCord (ed.), Essays on Moral Realism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988), pp. 181–7, 196–217.

32. David Enoch, ‘An Outline of an Argument for Robust Metanormative Realism’, Oxford Studies in Metaethics, 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 21–50.


Part One: Moral Disagreement

33. C. L. Stevenson, ‘The Nature of Ethical Disagreement’, Facts and Values (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1963), pp. 1–9.

34. J. L. Mackie, ‘The Argument From Relativity’, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (London: Penguin, 1977), pp. 36–8.

35. Don Loeb, ‘Moral Realism and the Argument from Disagreement’, Philosophical Studies, 90, 1998, pp. 281–303.

36. Russ Shafer-Landau, ‘Rationality and Disagreement’, Moral Realism: A Defence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 215–28.

Part Two: Moral Supervenience

37. Simon Blackburn, ‘Supervenience Revisited’, in Ian Hacking (ed.), Exercises in Analysis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 47–67.

38. James Dreier, ‘The Supervenience Argument against Moral Realism’, Southern Journal of Philosophy, 30, 1992, pp. 13–38.

39. Ralph Wedgwood, ‘The Price of Nonreductive Moral Realism’, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 2, 1999, pp. 199–215.

40. Nick Zangwill, ‘Moral Supervenience’, in Peter French, Theodore Vehling, and Howard Wettstein (eds.), Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 20 (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1995), pp. 240–61.

Part Three: Moral Twin Earth

41. Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons, ‘New Wave Moral Realism Meets Moral Twin Earth’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 16, 1991, pp. 447–65.

42. David O. Brink, ‘Realism, Naturalism, and Moral Semantics’, Social Philosophy and Policy, 18, 2001, pp. 154–76.

Part Four: The Frege-Geach Problem

43. Simon Blackburn, ‘Attitudes and Contents’, Ethics, 98, 1988, pp. 501–17.

44. Bob Hale, ‘Can There Be a Logic of Attitudes?’, in Crispin Wright and John Haldane (eds.), Reality, Representation, and Projection (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 337–63.

45. Allan Gibbard, ‘Planning and Ruling Out, Thinking How to Live (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), pp. 41–59.

46. James Dreier, ‘Negation for Expressivists: A Collection of Problems with a Suggestion for their Solution’, in Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 217–33.

Part Five: Moral Explanations

47. Gilbert Harman, ‘Ethics and Observation’, The Nature of Morality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), pp. 3–10.

48. Nicholas L. Sturgeon, ‘Moral Explanations’, in David Copp and David Zimmerman (eds.), Morality, Reason, and Truth (Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Allanheld, 1985), pp. 49–75.

49. Simon Blackburn, ‘Just Causes’, Philosophical Studies, 61, 1991, pp. 3–17.

50. Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, ‘Moral Theory and Explanatory Impotence’, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 12, 1988, pp. 433–57.

51. Brad Majors, ‘Moral Explanation and the Special Sciences’, Philosophical Studies, 113, 2003, pp. 121–52.


Part One: Moral Epistemology

52. Shelly Kagan, ‘Thinking about Cases’, in Ellen Paul, Fred Miller, and Jeffrey Paul (eds.), Moral Knowledge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), pp. 44–63.

53. George Sher, ‘But I Could Be Wrong’, Social Philosophy and Policy, 18, 2001, pp. 64–78.

54. Renford Bambrough, ‘Proof’, Moral Skepticism and Moral Knowledge (London: Routledge, 1979), pp. 11–13, 15–27.

55. Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, ‘Coherentist Epistemology and Moral Theory’, in Mark Timmons and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (eds.), Moral Knowledge? (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 138, 148–54, 159–78.

56. Peter Singer, ‘Sidgwick and Reflective Equilibrium’, Monist, 57, 1974, pp. 490–517.

57. Robert Audi, ‘Intuitionism, Pluralism, and the Foundations of Ethics’, Moral Knowledge and Ethical Character (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 32–51, 55–8.

58. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, ‘Moderate Classy Pyrrhonian Moral Skepticism’, Philosophical Quarterly

Part Two: The Rational Authority of Morality

59. Philippa Foot, ‘Morality as a System of Hypothetical Imperatives’, Philosophical Review, 81, 1972, pp. 305–16.

60. Bernard Williams, ‘Internal and External Reasons’, in Ross Harrison (ed.), Rational Action (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), pp. 17–28.

61. Christine Korsgaard, ‘Skepticism about Practical Reason’, Journal of Philosophy, 83, 1986, pp. 5–25.

62. Derek Parfit, ‘Reasons and Motivation’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 71, 1997, pp. 99–130.

63. David O. Brink, ‘A Puzzle about the Rational Authority of Morality’, in James Tomberlin (ed.), Philosophical Perspectives, 6: Ethics (Atascadero, CA: Ridgeview, 1992), pp. 1–26.

64. James Dreier, ‘Human Doubts about the Practical Justification of Morality’, in Garrett Cullity and Berys Gaut (eds.), Ethics and Practical Reason (Oxford: Clarendon Press: 1997), pp. 81–99.

Part Three: Moral Motivation

65. Michael Stocker, ‘Desiring the Bad: An Essay in Moral Psychology’, Journal of Philosophy, 76, 1979, pp. 738–53.

66. Michael Smith, ‘The Externalist Challenge’, The Moral Problem (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994), pp. 60–76, 85–91.

67. David O. Brink, ‘Moral Motivation’, Ethics, 108, 1997, pp. 4–32.

68. Sigrún Svavarsdóttir, ‘Moral Cognitivism and Motivation’, Philosophical Review, 108, 1999, pp. 161–219.

69. R. Jay Wallace, ‘Moral Motivation’, in James Dreier (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Moral Theory (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2006), pp. 182–96.

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