Latest Podcast Episode

#32 - Michael Huemer: Ethical Intuitionism

Download this episode / Watch on YouTube / RSS Feed / iTunes

Are there moral facts? If so, are they objective? Where do they come from? Do we have reason to think – or doubt – that our immediate ethical intuitions tell us what they are?

These are the questions I discuss this week with professor Michael Huemer. The metaethical landscape can be split up as follows: realists (those who think there are objective ethical facts) and anti-realists (those who don’t). Realists, in turn, fall into two further camps: naturalists, who think objective ethical facts can be reduced to descriptive facts about the world; and ethical intuitionists, who think ethical facts (or “evaluative” facts) are of a different sort and cannot be reduced to descriptive facts. As Huemer puts it, ethical intuitionists argue that ethical facts have a different type of ontology. We go on to discuss the reasons we should trust our ethical intuitions to reveal moral facts, why ethical intuitions seem shakier than perceptual ones, and what the source of moral facts is. Finally, Huemer gives us a teaser for his upcoming book, Paradox Lost, in which he claims to solve ten famous paradoxes, including the LiarSoritesNewcomb’s, and the Sleeping Beauty problem.

Featured Blog Post

Sorites Paradox and Its Solutions (Vagueness)

0 grains of sand obviously do not make a heap. And for any number of grains of sand, adding just one more will never turn a non-heap into a heap. These two statements seem undeniably true. But they allow us to form a chain of reasoning that yields an absurd result. Since 0 grains do not make a heap, and adding 1 grain can never make the difference, then 1 grain is also not a heap. Since 1 grain does not make a heap and adding 1 can never make the difference, then 2 grains are also not a heap. And so on. We can apply this reasoning 100,000 times to prove that 100,000 grains of sand do not make a heap. But this is obviously false.

This is the sorites paradox. While at first glance it reads like mere wordplay, it is arguably the toughest paradox facing modern logic and metaphysics. In this post, I offer quick summaries of the most common proposed solutions and conclude that none of them quite solves the problem.

audiodrama album

Featured Work

Talia (audiodrama album)

"It all started when I decided to write a self-aware character." A narrative and musical  journey into the mind of a writer who fears that a fictional character of his own creation may be plotting to permanently hijack his very identity and agency. The humorous, philosophical, tragic, and absurd story is accompanied by a rich and varied original score, incorporating elements of electronica, prog rock, jazz, hip-hop, chamber, choral, avant-garde, and metal. 96 min. album.