Does Anything Really Matter?: Essays on Parfit on Objectivity

ISBN : 9780199653836

Peter Singer
318 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jan 2017
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In the first two volumes of On What Matters Derek Parfit argues that there are objective moral truths, and other normative truths about what we have reasons to believe, and to want, and to do. He thus challenges a view of the role of reason in action that can be traced back to David Hume, and is widely assumed to be correct, not only by philosophers but also by economists. In defending his view, Parfit argues that if there are no objective normative truths, nihilism follows, and nothing matters. He criticizes, often forcefully, many leading contemporary philosophers working on the nature of ethics, including Simon Blackburn, Stephen Darwall, Allen Gibbard, Frank Jackson, Peter Railton, Mark Schroeder, Michael Smith, and Sharon Street. Does Anything Really Matter? gives these philosophers an opportunity to respond to Parfit's criticisms, and includes essays on Parfit's views by Richard Chappell, Andrew Huddleston, Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer, Bruce Russell, and Larry Temkin. A third volume of On What Matters, in which Parfit engages with his critics and breaks new ground in finding significant agreement between his own views and theirs, is appearing as a separate companion volume.


Preface, Peter Singer
1: Has Parfit's Life Been Wasted? Some Reflections on Part Six of On What MattersLarry Temkin
2: Two Sides of the Meta-Ethical Mountain?, Peter Railton
3: Parfit on Normative Properties and Disagreement, Allan Gibbard
4: All Souls Night, Simon Blackburn
5: Parfit's Mistaken Metaethics, Michael Smith
6: Nothing 'Really' Matters, but That's Not What Matters, Sharon Street
7: Knowing What Matters, Richard Chappell
8: Nietzsche and the Hope of Normative Convergence, Andrew Huddleston
9: In Defence Of Reductionism In Ethics, Frank Jackson
10: What Matters about Metaethics?, Mark Schroeder
11: A Defense of Moral Intuitionism, Bruce Russell
12: Morality, Blame, and Internal Reasons, Stephen Darwall
13: Parfit on Objectivity and 'The Profoundest Problem of Ethics', Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer

About the author: 

Peter Singer is Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University, a position that he now combines with the position of Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. His books include Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, The Life You Can Save, The Point of View of the Universe (co-authored with Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek), and The Most Good You Can Do. An Australian, in 2012 he was made a Companion to the Order of Australia, his country's highest civilian honour.

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