Modality in the Metaphysics of Ethics
The paper assumes a non-naturalist view of ethics according to which particular moral facts are ultimately grounded in non-normative facts together with general moral principles. This view raises two questions. The first concerns the form of these general principles. The second concerns their modal status. The paper argues that pure moral principles best understood as modalized generalizations of the form It is normatively necessary that whatever is PHI is F (where PHI is non-normative and F is normative), though not every such fact is a principle; and that given plausible assumptions, most such principles are metaphysically contingent. This view raises further questions about the epistemology of ethics, and about the range of metaphysically possible variation in moral principles, answers to which are briefly sketched.
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