The natural/non-natural distinction in metaethics

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Realists in metaethics typically divide into two camps: naturalists and non-naturalists. But beyond this, there is very little agreement on what the natural/non-natural distinction is supposed to be. Naturalists see themselves as assimilating the normative into a scientific worldview, while non-naturalists typically either see realism as incompatible with such a worldview or they simply don't find the relationship between science and the normative particularly pressing. This is an unfortunate state of affairs. Naturalists and non-naturalists see themselves as involved in a deep disagreement about the nature of the normative, but it is not clear why the views espoused by non-naturalists stand in contrast to the views espoused by scientists (or by naturalists). Nor is it obvious why certain naturalists can lay claim to being in keeping with a scientific worldview. If metaethicists are to continue to debate the question of naturalism versus non-naturalism, the distinction will need to be clarified. This dissertation attempts to do just that. Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the issue. Chapters 2-4 examine prominent proposals for drawing the distinction in the literature (respectively, reduction, spatiotemporality, and causation), finding them all wanting. Chapter 5 contains a positive proposal in which I argue that the distinction can helpfully be drawn in terms of the kind of evidence naturalists ought to require for normative facts. In particular I argue that the publicity and spatiotemporality of evidence for natural facts provides a useful way of drawing the distinction.


Type of resource text
Form electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
Extent 1 online resource.
Place California
Place [Stanford, California]
Publisher [Stanford University]
Copyright date 2023; ©2023
Publication date 2023; 2023
Issuance monographic
Language English


Author Zweber, Adam Edward
Degree supervisor Hussain, Nadeem
Thesis advisor Hussain, Nadeem
Thesis advisor Lawlor, Krista
Thesis advisor Longino, Helen
Thesis advisor Maguire,Barry
Degree committee member Lawlor, Krista
Degree committee member Longino, Helen
Degree committee member Maguire,Barry
Associated with Stanford University, School of Humanities and Sciences
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Philosophy


Genre Theses
Genre Text

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Adam Zweber.
Note Submitted to the Department of Philosophy.
Thesis Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2023.

Access conditions

© 2023 by Adam Edward Zweber
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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