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Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Volume 9$
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Russ Shafer-Landau

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198709299

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198709299.001.0001

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Moral Skepticism and Moral Disagreement in Nietzsche

Moral Skepticism and Moral Disagreement in Nietzsche

Chapter:
(p.126) 6 Moral Skepticism and Moral Disagreement in Nietzsche
Source:
Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Volume 9
Author(s):

Brian Leiter

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198709299.003.0006

This chapter offers a new interpretation of Nietzsche’s argument for moral skepticism, an argument that should be of independent philosophical interest as well. On this account, Nietzsche offers a version of the argument from moral disagreement, but, unlike familiar varieties, it does not purport to exploit anthropological reports about the moral views of exotic cultures, or even garden-variety conflicting moral intuitions about concrete cases. Nietzsche, instead, calls attention to the single most important and embarrassing fact about the history of moral theorizing by philosophers over two millennia: namely, that no rational consensus has been secured on any substantive, foundational proposition about morality. Persistent and apparently intractable disagreement on foundational questions, of course, distinguishes moral theory from inquiry in the sciences and mathematics. According to Nietzsche, the best explanation for this disagreement is that, even though moral skepticism is true, philosophers can still construct valid dialectical justifications for moral claims because the premises of different justifications will answer to the psychological needs of at least some philosophers and thus be deemed true by some of them. The chapter concludes by considering various attempts to defuse this abductive argument for scepticism.

Keywords:   moral anti-realism, argument from disagreement, Nietzsche, Mackie

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