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Moral fictionalism, preference moralization and anti-conservatism: why metaethical error theory doesn't imply policy quietism

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  • D.Ross

Abstract

The evolutionary explanation of human dispositions to prosocial behaviour and to moralization of such behaviour undermines the moral realist's belief in objective moral facts that hold independently of people's contingent desires. At the same time, advocacy of preferences for significant departures from hallowed policies (that is, for 'loud policies') is generally sure to be ineffective unless it is moralized. It may seem that this requires the economist who would advocate loud policies, but is also committed to a naturalistic account of human social and cognitive behaviour, to engage in wilful manipulation, morally hectoring people even when she knows that her doing so ought rationally to carry no persuasive force. Furthermore, it might be wondered on what basis just for herself an error theorist about morality advocates loud policies. I argue that understanding the role of moralized preferences in the maintenance of the self, and in turn understanding the economic rationale of such self-maintenance, allows us to see how and why preferences can be moralized by a believer in error theory without this implying hypocrisy or manipulation of others. Length 30 pages

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  • D.Ross, 2006. "Moral fictionalism, preference moralization and anti-conservatism: why metaethical error theory doesn't imply policy quietism," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2006-16, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  • Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2006-16
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    1. Don Ross, 2007. "Economic Theory and Cognitive Science: Microexplanation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262681684, January.
    2. Ken Binmore, 1998. "Game Theory and the Social Contract - Vol. 2: Just Playing," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 2, number 0262024446, January.
    3. Ken Binmore, 1994. "Game Theory and the Social Contract, Volume 1: Playing Fair," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262023636, January.
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