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Objectivity without reality

Implications of conceptual role semantics in metaethics
PhD ceremony:Mr H.M. (Herman) Veluwenkamp
When:December 10, 2020
Supervisor:prof. dr. B. (Bart) Streumer
Co-supervisor:dr. H.W.A. (Daan) Evers
Where:Academy building RUG
Objectivity without reality

Imagine that you happen to find yourself engaged in a conversation about women’s suffrage. To your great surprise, your interlocutor thinks that the right of women to vote in elections is actually a bad idea. After a heated discussion it turns out that, to your horror, he holds the firm belief that men and women are not equal and should not have the same rights. What would your reaction be? You probably are disgusted with his position, and surely think that he is mistaken. Would that feeling change if you found out that he also thinks that you are making a mistake? Would you think that both positions are correct? Probably not. Most people think that in cases such as the one above, there is only one true answer. In other words, most people think that morality is objective.

The most straightforward way to explain objectivity is to hold that there is a moral reality. According to this explanation, moral judgements are objectively true if and only if they correspond to moral reality. This seems to be an attractive explanation, because it is analogous to our explanation of the objectivity of (some) non-moral judgements. However, many people reject the notion of moral reality. In my dissertation I investigate the question whether there could be moral objectivity without moral reality. One of the results of this research is a proposal for a metaethical position that satisfies moral objectivity but is not committed to moral reality.