HANDOUT ON VARIETIES OF REALISM AND ANTI-REALISM

 

Cognitivism and Non-Cognitivism

 

Cognitivism with respect to a certain kind of discourse is the view that the discourse is propositional (and thus that statements in the discourse are true or false).

 

Non-Cognitivism with respect to a certain kind of discourse is the view that the discourse is not propositional (and thus that statements in the discourse are neither true nor false).  Hume is generally regarded as a non-cognitivist.

 

A realist with respect to a certain kind of discourse is a cognitivist who believes that some statements in the discourse are true.

 

An anti-realist with respect to a certain kind of discourse is someone who believes that no statement in the discourse is true—that is, either the statements in the discourse are non-propositional, or they are all false.

 

 

 

1.  Moral Realism and Anti-Realism 

 

Moral Realism (MR):  There are normative truths about what one morally ought or ought not to do.   (There is some disagreement among moral realists on whether or not these truths depend on one's situation).  These truths apply to all rational beings (at least, when they are in relevantly similar situations). 

 

Moral Anti-Realism (MAR):  There are no normative truths about what one morally ought or ought not to do.  (The advocate of MAR typically provides an explanation of why it seems to us that there are such truths). 

 

 

2.  Practical Reason Realism and Anti-Realism

Practical Reason Realism (PRR):  There are normative truths about what it is rational to do (which typically depend on one's situation).  These truths apply to all rational beings (in relevantly similar situations).

 

Practical Reason Anti-Realism (PRAR) (Extreme Humeanism):  There are no normative truths about what it is rational to do.  (The advocate of PRAR typically provides an explanation of why it seems to us that there are such truths.)  PRAR implies MAR.

 

 

3.  Theoretical Reason Realism and Anti-Realism

 

Theoretical Reason Realism (TRR):  There are normative truths about what it is rational to believe (which typically depend on one's situation).  These truths apply to all rational beings (in relevantly similar situations).

 

Theoretical Reason Anti-Realism (TRAR):  There are no normative truths about what it is rational to believe.  (The advocate of TRAR typically provides an explanation of why it seems to us that there are such truths.)

 

 

4.  Normative Anti-Realism (NAR):  There are no normative truths.  NAR implies TRAR, PRAR, and MAR.

 

 

 

 

OBJECTIVE PRESCRIPTIVITY

AND OBJECTIVE VALUES

 

A.  Non-Moral Properties

 

Objective Non-Moral To-Be-Pursuedness [or Not-To-Be-Pursuedness]:  This would be a property of goals that it would be irrational, though not necessarily immoral, not to pursue [or to pursue] or a non-moral constraint on the goals to be pursued.  For example the Strong or Weak Norm of Transitivity is a potential norm of Non-Moral To-Be-Pursuedness, because it is a rational constraint on preferences (goals).

 

Objective Non-Moral To-Be-Doneness [or Not-To-Be-Doneness]:  This would be a property of actions that it would be irrational, though not necessarily immoral, to fail to perform [or to perform], in the appropriate circumstances.  For example, the Instrumentalist Norm is a potential norm of non-moral to-be-doneness.

 

B.  Moral Properties

 

Objective Moral To-Be-Pursuedness [or Not-To-Be-Pursuedness]:  This would be property of goals that everyone morally should [or should not] pursue.  For example, act utilitarians believe that the goal of maximizing overall utility is a moral goal that everyone should pursue.

 

Objective Moral To-Be-Doneness [or Not-To-Be-Doneness]:  This would be a property of actions that everyone morally should perform [or should not perform].  For example, Kant thought that his categorical imperative was a moral norm that all rational agents should obey, regardless of whether they had any inclination to do so. 

 

C.  Epistemological Properties

 

Objective To-Be-Believedness [Not-To-Be-Believedness]:  This would be a property beliefs that everyone should believe [or should not believe] in the appropriate circumstances.  For example, the Law of Non-Contradiction is a potential norm of not-to-be-believedness.