The normative force of certainty: a defense of realism
AdvisorWringe, William Giles
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Crispin Wright, in Truth and Objectivity, introduces his anti-realist paradigm, arguing that discourse about morality can be truth-apt without holding a realist stance. There, he formulates the criterion of Cognitive Command against realism by claiming that moral realism is defensible if and only if it is a priori that any moral disagreement between realists and anti-realists involves a cognitive shortcoming. In this thesis, the methodology I adopt to defend realism is to uphold Wittgenstein’s claims about certainty against Wright’s criterion of Cognitive Command. In so doing, I argue that the disagreement between realists and anti-realists is a kind of deep disagreement over basic moral certainties, which cannot be rationally resolvable. I then investigate the possibility of basic certainties in metadiscourse by referring to the claims about the existence of moral facts in contemporary metaethics. Taken together, I show that the criterion of Cognitive Command works neither in first-order normative discourse nor in second-order discourse about normativity.