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Terrestrial Ethics

max hayward
Tuesday, February 4, 2020, 3:30 pm – 5:10 pm


Some philosophers think it would be tremendously sad – as Derek Parfit wrote, “a tragedy” – if ethics were merely a natural, human, contingent, emotionally-driven phenomenon. Following Nomy Arpaly, I call these philosophers “celestials”. They think that ethics would somehow be more legitimate or significant if its claims were grounded in mind-independent truths, if they were objective in some transcendental sense, or if they had the sanction of pure reason. My goal is to defuse the fears that animate this view. Nothing of significance would be lost if the aspirations of celestials were not realised, if ethics turned out to be “merely” terrestrial.