Ethical Realism

January 13, 2011

Top 10 Posts on Ethical Realism from 2010

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 5:46 am

I am confident that many of my essays will be helpful to others, but you probably want to cut to the chase and read what is most important and interesting. This is what I think qualifies as most important and interesting that I posted last year.

10. Should I take a philosophy class? (And Should I Major in Philosophy?)

I wasn’t sure if I could explain how important philosophy is to me (and everyone else), but I think it turned out pretty well.

9. 10 Myths About Beliefs

Socrates said, “I know that I know nothing,” and some people suspect that philosophy has never made any progress—that philosophy has never given us anything to offer. That is false. One thing that philosophy has been good at is debunking unjustified “myths.” 10 of these myths are mentioned here. Many myths about beliefs involve what counts as “good reasoning.” More information about “good reasoning” can be found in a free ebook I made, How to Become a Philosopher.

8. 10 Myths About Morality

10 more myths debunked by philosophers.

7. A Review of The Normative Web: An Argument for Moral Realism by Terance Cuneo

I took book reviews seriously last year and gave them a lot of thought. Most of them this year were reviews of books that argue or defend moral realism – the view that there are moral facts that aren’t merely a human invention or cultural custom.1 There really is right and wrong (or values) beyond our opinions. The Normative Web provided a pretty good argument for moral realism based on similarities found between moral and epistemic facts (concerning reasoning), but I decided that more investigation is needed before I find it convincing. (Epistemic realism is the view that there are facts about what is reasonable or not.) More information about moral realism can be found in my free ebook, Is there a Meaning of Life?

6. A Review of Nathan Nobis’s Truth in Ethics and Epistemology

Nobis defends moral realism in a similar way that Cuneo argues for moral realism—both of them find moral realism plausible for the same reason epistemic realism is plausible. This is the review I spent the most time on last year and it got quite long.

5. Does Human Life Have Value?

Although people tend to assume that human life has value for the most part, some people seem to find this “assumption” unwarranted. I examine the reasons for thinking that human life has value.

4. A Review of Commitment, Value, and Moral Realism by Marcel S. Lieberman

Lieberman argues for moral realism by arguing that we can’t commit ourselves without the assumption that moral realism is true. It’s incoherent for someone to have commitments but reject moral realism.

3. William Lane Craig’s Moral Argument For God

William Lane Craig reminds us what happens when someone not only knows little about contemporary philosophy, but also what happens when someone violates the rules of reason entirely. If you want to see how philosophy can thoroughly debunk sophistry, this is a good place to look. Of course, William Lane Craig is very popular in some conservative Christian circles, so his sophistry isn’t as harmless as I would like.

2. A Review of Moral Realism by Torbjörn Tännsjö

Tannsjo’s argument for moral realism is quite similar to my own and they compliment each other nicely. The idea is that we experience or “observe” certain moral facts—such as the fact that pain is bad.

1. A Proposal for a Philosophical Community

I came to the realization that we need more “philosophy outreach” and “public relations” because philosophy is a powerful force for improving the world and ourselves. A philosophical community was my first thought concerning this realization, and it eventually lead to the Philosophy Campaign, where you can find a lot more of my thoughts about the importance of philosophy and how we can spread the word.



1 Some people think that moral realism requires God. If there is no God, then there is no factual right or wrong (or factual values). Some atheists claim that morality is therefore something like cultural customs. A culture says what’s right and wrong, but there is no right or wrong culture. Some theists argue that there are moral facts beyond human opinion and use that as proof that God exists. I wrote a free ebook on this issue called Does Morality Require God?



  1. I’m surprised you didn’t include “Can Morality Be Known Through Science?” in this list.

    Comment by josef johann — January 13, 2011 @ 7:50 am | Reply

    • I’m glad you liked Can Morality be Known Through Science?, but I wasn’t sure how to fit it in. I would have considered that over “Human Life Has Intrinsic Value” I suppose since they both fulfill a similar “ethics” requirement on the list to represent my discussion as a whole, but the human life question is one that I find more important right now.

      I wrote a lot more last year than in 2009, so it was harder to make this list.

      It looks like the URL to your site had a typo and should be here:

      Comment by James Gray — January 13, 2011 @ 10:18 am | Reply

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