© Reyes Espinoza 2013


The field of Ethics in philosophy is confusing for many, even those having worked in the field a few years. Thus, the field of Meta-ethics may be even more confusing. Meta-ethics, in a nutshell, is arguing about how to argue about Ethics. A question to ask in this field is what are moral properties? That is, what makes claims about morality true or false? Peter Railton takes them to be naturalistic properties (facts in the natural and social sciences) that play an explanatory role in empirical theories. Railton’s ethical naturalism is one such theory of morality. Here I will focus on an objection to Railton’s theory. Neil Sinclair claims that instrumentally rational people might sometimes not agree with Railton’s definition of moral rightness; moral rightness being identical with satisfying the objective interests of a group of people. Based on this, Sinclair argues, one should reject Railton’s claim that moral properties are identical with facts in the natural and social sciences. My argument allows for exceptions in Railton’s theory such that it preserves his definition of moral rightness and allows for instrumentally rational agents to sometimes disagree with his definition of moral rightness.

Editor's Note: Honorable Mention Paper, 17th Annual Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference (2013)



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