METAETHICAL NATURALISM AND EXPLANATIONS OF IMPORTANT SOCIAL AND POLITICAL PROCESSES
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The paper critically examines an original metaethical theory set forth by Peter Railton in his article: 'Moral Realism' (The Philosophical Review, XCV, 2/1986, pp.163-207). The justification for his version of naturalistic realism is to be provided by adequate explanations of important social and political processes which, allegedly, the account is capable of offering. The crucial role in this task is assigned to the concept of social rationality. An act that is socially rational is one which is approved once the objective interests of all potentially affected persons are taken equally into consideration. Moral rightness is identified with social rationality thus understood. According to Railton, some essential social and political processes taking place in real communities can be explained by the disparities between the way things actually are and the way they morally ought to be. Unfortunately, Railton's account cannot be regarded as constituting an adequate metaethical theory. At least two basic properties peculiar to ordinary moral discourse, i.e. the property of prescriptivity and the property of internalism, can be neither inferred nor explained (or explained away) by means of the theory in question. On top of that, Railton's approach entails certain highly controversial consequences in the realm of normative ethics. Therefore, this undoubtedly interesting attempt at grounding metaethical realism in the domain of social sciences has to be assessed as unsuccessful.
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