David Velleman, NYU: "Metaethics for Relativists"
Fri, April 25, 2014 • 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM • David L. Miller Conference Room, WAG 316
Abstract: A moral relativist says that one and the same kind of action can be permissible for one community but impermissible for another. What does he mean by "permissible for a community"? If he means permitted by the community, or permissible according to the community, then he fails to rule out the possibility that nothing is really permissible or impermissible; whereas the relativist believes that the distinction is real, though different for different communities. If in calling an action permissible for a community, he means that it is permissible for members of the community to engage in, then he fails to rule out the possibility that differences among communities are due only to morally relevant differences in their circumstances, not to the absence of universal moral requirements. I argue that "permissible for a community" must mean permissible from the community's perspective, and I explain how normativity can -- indeed, must -- be perspectival.