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Normative Issues in Metaethics

Applicant Jaquet François
Number 168753
Funding scheme Early Postdoc.Mobility
Research institution Department of Philosophy University of Stockholm
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.09.2017 - 28.02.2019
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Keywords (5)

Fictionalism; Error theory; Normative metaethics; Utilitarianism; Conservationism

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
La théorie de l'erreur affirme que tous les jugements moraux sont faux parce qu'ils présupposent à tort l'existence de faits moraux. Elle soulève la question suivante : que devrions-nous faire de nos croyances morales ? les remplacer par d'autres attitudes ou simplement nous en débarrasser ?
Lay summary

Contenu et objectifs du travail de recherche

Le présent projet a trois objectifs. Premièrement, je discuterai deux présupposés possiblement douteux sur lesquels pourrait reposer cette question : (i) l'existence de faits prudentiels, et (ii) la possibilité, pour les théoriciens de l'erreur, de continuer d'entretenir des croyances morales. Deuxièmement, je défendrai une théorie particulière dans ce débat – le fictionnalisme – selon laquelle nous devrions remplacer nos croyances morales par des attitudes fictionnelles, des « quasi-croyances ». Troisièmement, j'argumenterai que cette théorie a des implications utilitaristes en éthique normative. S'il est vrai que nous devrions remplacer nos croyances morales par des quasi-croyances, alors nous devrions quasi-croire l'ensemble de propositions morales qui maximiserait le bien-être.

 

Contexte scientifique et social du projet de recherche

Traditionnellement, la métaéthique est conçue comme une entreprise descriptive : les métaéthiciens décrivent la nature de la morale telle qu’elle est. Ce n’est que récemment que les métaéthiciens se sont intéressé à la question normative de ce que nous devrions faire de la morale. Le présent projet s’inscrit dans ce programme de recherche.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 20.03.2017

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Publications

Publication
Utilitarianism for the Error Theorist
Jaquet François (2020), Utilitarianism for the Error Theorist, in The Journal of Ethics.
Sorting Out Solutions to the Now-What Problem
Jaquet François (2020), Sorting Out Solutions to the Now-What Problem, in Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, 17(3), 239-258.
Is Speciesism Wrong by Definition?
Jaquet François (2019), Is Speciesism Wrong by Definition?, in Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 32(3), 447-458.
A Debunking Argument Against Speciesism
Jaquet François (2019), A Debunking Argument Against Speciesism, in Synthese.
Qui peut sauver la morale? Essai de métaéthique
JaquetFrançois (2019), Qui peut sauver la morale? Essai de métaéthique, Ithaque, Paris.
Evolution and Utilitarianism
Jaquet François (2018), Evolution and Utilitarianism, in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 21(5), 1151-1161.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Higher seminar in practical philosophy Individual talk Sorting Out Metaethical Revisionism 20.11.2018 Stockholm, Sweden Jaquet François;
Society for Applied Philosophy Annual Conference 2018 Talk given at a conference Debunking Speciesism 29.06.2018 Utrecht, Netherlands Jaquet François;
Post-graduate seminar Individual talk Utilitarianism for the Fictionalist 15.02.2018 Birmingham, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Jaquet François;
Work in progress session Individual talk Debunking Speciesism 22.11.2017 Birmingham, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Jaquet François;
Irish Philosophical Society Annual Conference 2017 Talk given at a conference Debunking Speciesism 03.11.2017 Carlow, Ireland Jaquet François;
Varieties of Contemporary Moral Realism Talk given at a conference Evolution, Impartiality, and Well-Being 19.10.2017 Prague, Czech Republic Jaquet François;


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
183808 Debunking Arguments in Animal Ethics 01.12.2019 Postdoc.Mobility

Abstract

Metaethics is the area of philosophy that investigates second-order questions about morality. Traditionally, it has been construed as a descriptive enterprise: metaethicists study the nature of moral thought, discourse and facts. One descriptive metaethical view that has gained in popularity in the last 15 years is the error theory, according to which all moral claims are false because they presuppose the existence of moral facts while there are no such facts. This theory finds some echo among non-philosophers. Yet, on the face of it, being an error theorist does not seem to be an easy task. Indeed, human beings are prone to accessing the world as tainted with moral colours, an inclination which is deeply anchored in our emotional life. But then, what should we do with our moral attitudes once we have accepted the error theory? Error theorists have recently turned their attention to this pressing question. They have debated whether we should keep our moral beliefs, replace them with other attitudes or simply get rid of them. Obviously, this question is not a moral question, since it is based on the assumption that there is nothing we should do morally. Rather, it is prudential; it is about what is in our best interest. Thus, this question belongs to what we could call “normative metaethics”. The present project has three aims, the first of which is to examine two assumptions this debate has been thought to rest upon: the assumption that there are prudential facts and the assumption that error theorists could keep having moral beliefs. The second aim is to defend a particular theory in this debate: we should replace our moral beliefs with fictional attitudes. The third aim is to show that, in a way, this theory has utilitarian implications in first-order ethics.
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