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Blackburn’s Supervenience Argument Against Moral Realism: Revisited

Noonan, Harold

Blackburn’s Supervenience Argument Against Moral Realism: Revisited Thumbnail


Professor of Mind and Cognition


Blackburn argues against naturalistic moral realism. He argues that there is no conceptual entailment from satisfying a naturalistic predicate to satisfying a moral predicate. But the moral is conceptually supervenient on the natural. However, this conjunction of conceptual supervenience with lack of conceptual entailment is something the non-realist can explain, but the realist cannot. I argue first that Blackburn’s best formulation of his challenge is his first one. Subsequently he reformulates it as a demand for a ‘ban on mixed worlds’. Critics have directed their arguments against this formulation but they are ineffective against Blackburn’s first formulation. My second thesis is, even so formulated the realist can meet the challenge. The bare conceptual supervenience of the moral on the natural can be given a realist explanation by understanding names of moral properties as descriptive names of natural properties.


Noonan, H. (2020). Blackburn’s Supervenience Argument Against Moral Realism: Revisited. Metaphysica, 21(1), 151–165.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 31, 2020
Online Publication Date Feb 14, 2020
Publication Date Apr 28, 2020
Deposit Date Feb 4, 2020
Publicly Available Date Feb 15, 2021
Journal Metaphysica
Print ISSN 1437-2053
Electronic ISSN 1874-6373
Publisher De Gruyter
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 1
Pages 151–165
Keywords Philosophy
Public URL
Publisher URL


Blackburn Supervenience (2) 10102020 270120 One And Half Space (002) (227 Kb)

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