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Public Defense of Maarten Van Doorn on "By Which We May Be Judged"

Friday, May 6, 2022, 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm

The Department of Philosophy cordially invites you to the Public Defense of the PhD Dissertation

Maarten Van Doorn (PhD candidate, Department of Philosophy)

on `By Which We May Be Judged`

Members of the Defense Committee:

Supervisor: Simon Rippon (CEU)
External examiner: David Enoch (
Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Internal Examiner:
Asya Passinsky (CEU)
Chair: Michael Griffin (CEU)


One of the most widely held philosophical views about the nature of ethics is non-naturalistic moral realism. According to this view, there exist sui generis and causally inefficacious properties, which are also inherently normative, and therefore the answers to important normative questions – such as what is intrinsically bad, what we have reason to do, and so on – hinge on the existence and patterns of instantiation of extra metaphysics beyond the natural ways of the world.

In this dissertation, I investigate the metaphysical and epistemological status of non-naturalistic metaethical theories which posit such ontologically basic moral facts and properties as the source of morality. Metaphysically, I outline several novel ways in which theories positing such a source of morality face a dilemma between explanatory power and traditional ‘queerness’ worries. Epistemologically, I develop an argument that if our beliefs in non-natural facts are not best explained by non-natural facts (which they are not), that, in the absence of additional, non-abductive reasons for maintaining them, defeats their justification. 

Many hope that our values, purged of messy human contingency, could aspire to correspond with mind-independent, rationally obligatory, universal and eternal ethical facts. But if the arguments of this thesis are on the right track, we should reject the search for non-natural, mind independent, objective moral truth.