Non-naturalistic moral explanation

Samuel Baron, Mark Colyvan, Kristie Miller, Michael Rubin

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It has seemed, to many, that there is an important connection between the ways in which some theoretical posits explain our observations, and our reasons for being ontologically committed to those posits. One way to spell out this connection is in terms of what has become known as the explanatory criterion of ontological commitment. This is, roughly, the view that we ought to posit only those entities that are indispensable to our best explanations. Our primary aim is to argue that the moral nonnaturalist places herself in an invidious position if she simply accepts that the nonnatural moral facts that she posits are not explanatory. Instead, we offer the nonnaturalist an alternative strategy for dealing with moral explanations. The strategy is to retain the explanatory criterion of ontological commitment and maintain that moral properties are, in fact, explanatory. The explanations they provide are not causal explanations; instead, moral properties make a non-causal difference to the physical facts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4273-4294
Number of pages22
Issue number5
Early online date26 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


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