Rational learners and metaethics

Universalism, relativism, and evidence from consensus

Alisabeth Ayars, Shaun B Nichols

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent work in folk metaethics finds a correlation between perceived consensus about a moral claim and meta-ethical judgments about whether the claim is universally or only relatively true. We argue that consensus can provide evidence for meta-normative claims, such as whether a claim is universally true. We then report several experiments indicating that people use consensus to make inferences about whether a claim is universally true. This suggests that people's beliefs about relativism and universalism are partly guided by evidence-based reasoning. In a final study, we show that the rejection of universalism does not generate a simple subjectivism but is associated with a more moderate relativism on which highly atypical positions are regarded as mistaken.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMind and Language
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Fingerprint

relativism
universalism
evidence
experiment
Metaethics
Universalism
Relativism

Keywords

  • consensus
  • metaethics
  • moral learning
  • moral psychology
  • relativism
  • universalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

Rational learners and metaethics : Universalism, relativism, and evidence from consensus. / Ayars, Alisabeth; Nichols, Shaun B.

In: Mind and Language, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{28399fbb8386491ebfc81e295b6268b7,
title = "Rational learners and metaethics: Universalism, relativism, and evidence from consensus",
abstract = "Recent work in folk metaethics finds a correlation between perceived consensus about a moral claim and meta-ethical judgments about whether the claim is universally or only relatively true. We argue that consensus can provide evidence for meta-normative claims, such as whether a claim is universally true. We then report several experiments indicating that people use consensus to make inferences about whether a claim is universally true. This suggests that people's beliefs about relativism and universalism are partly guided by evidence-based reasoning. In a final study, we show that the rejection of universalism does not generate a simple subjectivism but is associated with a more moderate relativism on which highly atypical positions are regarded as mistaken.",
keywords = "consensus, metaethics, moral learning, moral psychology, relativism, universalism",
author = "Alisabeth Ayars and Nichols, {Shaun B}",
year = "2019",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1111/mila.12232",
language = "English (US)",
journal = "Mind and Language",
issn = "0268-1064",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Rational learners and metaethics

T2 - Universalism, relativism, and evidence from consensus

AU - Ayars, Alisabeth

AU - Nichols, Shaun B

PY - 2019/1/1

Y1 - 2019/1/1

N2 - Recent work in folk metaethics finds a correlation between perceived consensus about a moral claim and meta-ethical judgments about whether the claim is universally or only relatively true. We argue that consensus can provide evidence for meta-normative claims, such as whether a claim is universally true. We then report several experiments indicating that people use consensus to make inferences about whether a claim is universally true. This suggests that people's beliefs about relativism and universalism are partly guided by evidence-based reasoning. In a final study, we show that the rejection of universalism does not generate a simple subjectivism but is associated with a more moderate relativism on which highly atypical positions are regarded as mistaken.

AB - Recent work in folk metaethics finds a correlation between perceived consensus about a moral claim and meta-ethical judgments about whether the claim is universally or only relatively true. We argue that consensus can provide evidence for meta-normative claims, such as whether a claim is universally true. We then report several experiments indicating that people use consensus to make inferences about whether a claim is universally true. This suggests that people's beliefs about relativism and universalism are partly guided by evidence-based reasoning. In a final study, we show that the rejection of universalism does not generate a simple subjectivism but is associated with a more moderate relativism on which highly atypical positions are regarded as mistaken.

KW - consensus

KW - metaethics

KW - moral learning

KW - moral psychology

KW - relativism

KW - universalism

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85063781113&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85063781113&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/mila.12232

DO - 10.1111/mila.12232

M3 - Article

JO - Mind and Language

JF - Mind and Language

SN - 0268-1064

ER -