David Plunkett: "After Metaethics"

Event date
19 October 2023
Event time
17:00 - 19:00
Oxford week
MT 2
Goodhart Seminar Room University College

David Plunkett (Dartmouth)

Notes & Changes

"After Metaethics" 

 Tristram McPherson (Ohio State) and David Plunkett (Dartmouth)



Recently, several philosophers have begun to explicitly reflect on the conceptual ethics of normativity as a distinctive part of normative theory. Put roughly, the conceptual ethics of normativity aims to assess the normative words and concepts that we use, as well as salient possible alternative ones. One important question about the conceptual ethics of normativity is how it relates to more familiar metanormative and metaethical inquiry. Much discussion in ethical theory skates over or obscures systematic questions about the relationship between these projects. For example, Peter Railton’s “reforming” account of “moral goodness” involves a conceptual ethics proposal about how to amend an important ethical concept. And yet, it is commonly treated as a competitor to metaethical proposals with no “reforming” aspects, which (at least prima facie) seem to have different explanatory aims.

In this paper, we explore the relationship between metanormative inquiry and the conceptual ethics of normativity, and why it matters for our thinking about the foundations of ethics. To do so, we begin with an entry point that we take both to be illuminating and to be comparatively familiar for those working in metaethics: metaethical error theory and the “after error” question it prompts. We use this entry point to motivate a general (and, we argue, explanatorily powerful) framework for understanding important ways that work in metaethics and conceptual ethics can interact. We argue that this framework helps illuminate how we should best understand a range of important existing claims about the foundations of ethics, as well as possible new ones, and, moreover, how to best argue for those claims.  

David Plunkett presents the second paper of Michaelmas Term 2023: “After Metaethics” (co-authored with Tristram McPherson)

This seminar takes place in the Arthur Goodhart Seminar Room, University College, at 5:00pm on Thursday October 19.

The Room is located in Logic Lane and can be accessed from High St. or Merton St. without having to go through the main entrance to Univ College.

This event is open to anyone. No registration needed.

Pre-reading is desirable and strongly suggested, but not a requirement to attend.


If you want to receive the papers we discuss in our seminars join our mailing list by sending a blank email at jurisprudence-discussion-group-subscribe[at]maillist.ox.ac.uk.

Found within