Normative ethical theories generally purport to be explanatory--to tell us not just what is good, or what conduct is right, but why. Drawing on both historical and contemporary approaches, Mark Schroeder offers a distinctive picture of how such explanations must work, and of the specific commitments that they incur. According to Schroeder, explanatory moral theories can be perfectly general only if they are reductive, offering accounts of what it is for something to be good, right, or what someone ought to do. So ambitious, highly general normative ethical theorizing is continuous with metaethical inquiry. Moreover, he argues that such explanatory theories face a special challenge in accounting for reasons or obligations that are universally shared, and develops an autonomy-based strategy for meeting this challenge, in the case of requirements of rationality.
Explaining the Reasons We Share pulls together over a decade of work by one of the leading figures in contemporary metaethics. One new and ten previously published papers weave together treatments of reasons, reduction, supervenience, instrumental rationality, and legislation, to paint a sharp contrast between two plausible but competing pictures of the nature and limits of moral explanation--one from Cudworth and one indebted to Kant. A substantive new introduction provides a map to reading these essays as a unified argument, and qualifies their conclusions in light of Schroeder's current views.
Along with its sister volume, Expressing Our Attitudes, this volume advances the theme that metaethical inquiry is continuous with other areas of philosophy.
Mark Schroeder is the author of Slaves of the Passions (OUP 2007), Being For: Evaluating the Semantic Program of Expressivism (OUP 2008), and Noncognitivism in Ethics (Routledge 2010), as well as over fifty articles in ethics, epistemology, and the philosophy of language. His work has appeared in Ethics, Philosophical Review, Mind, Nous, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Philosophical Studies, and many other places. He is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California.
Table of Contents
Cudworth and Normative Explanations
Reasons and Agent-Neutrality
The Humean Theory of Reasons
What Matters About Metaethics?
Supervenience Arguments Under Relaxed Assumptions
The Price of Supervenience
The Scope of Instrumental Reason
Means-End Coherence, Stringency, and Subjective Reasons
The Hypothetical Imperative?
Hypothetical Imperatives, Scope, and Jurisdiction
Scope for Rational Autonomy