Realism, Objectivity, and Evaluation
I will discuss Benacerraf's epistemological challenge for realism about an area, F, like mathematics, metalogic, modality, or morality. I will argue that it should be understood as the challenge to show that our beliefs are safe, realistically construed -- i.e., as the challenge to show that we could not have easily had systematically false ones. I will explain how F-pluralism -- the view that there are a plurality of F-like concepts, all independently satisfied -- can be understood as a response to Benacerraf's challenge. And I will show that moral, and more generally, normative pluralism is peculiarly unsatisfactory. One upshot of the discussion is a radicalization of Moore's Open Question Argument. Another is that the concepts of realism and objectivity, which are widely identified, are actually in tension.
Justin Clarke-Doane is an Assistant Professor at Columbia University.