Morality and Mathematics

ISBN : 9780198823667

Justin Clarke-Doane
208 Pages
135 x 216 mm
Pub date
Feb 2020
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Justin Clarke-Doane explores arguments for and against moral realism and mathematical realism, how they interact, and what they can tell us about areas of philosophical interest more generally. He argues that, contrary to widespread belief, our mathematical beliefs have no better claim to being self-evident or provable than our moral beliefs. Nor do our mathematical beliefs have better claim to being empirically justified than our moral beliefs. It is also incorrect that reflection on the genealogy of our moral beliefs establishes a lack of parity between the cases. In general, if one is a moral antirealist on the basis of epistemological considerations, then one ought to be a mathematical antirealist as well. And, yet, Clarke-Doane shows that moral realism and mathematical realism do not stand or fall together - and for a surprising reason. Moral questions, insofar as they are practical, are objective in a sense that mathematical questions are not, and the sense in which they are objective can only be explained by assuming practical anti-realism. One upshot of the discussion is that the concepts of realism and objectivity, which are widely identified, are actually in tension. Another is that the objective questions in the neighborhood of factual areas like logic, modality, grounding, and nature are practical questions too. Practical philosophy should, therefore, take center stage.



1 Realism, Ontology, and Objectivity

2 Self-Evidence, Proof, and Disagreement

3 Observation and Indispensability

4 Genealogical Debunking Arguments

5 Explaining our Reliability

6 Realism, Objectivity, and Evaluation


About the author: 

Justin Clarke-Doane is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham and an Adjunct Research Associate at Monash University. He has previously been Visiting Scholar at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IHPST) at Pantheon-Sorbonne University (Paris 1). His work centers on metaphysical and epistemological problems surrounding apparently a priori domains, such as morality, modality, mathematics, and logic. He received his PhD in Philosophy from New York University in 2011 and obtained his BA in Philosophy and Mathematics from New College of Florida in 2005.

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