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Geoffrey Ferrari from Oxford University gave a talk entitled “Rightmaking and Supervenience” this past Monday at the Oxford Moral Philosophy Seminar. An abstract of his talk is as follows:

John Mackie asked what in the world the word “because” signifies in statements such as “What you did was wrong because it was deliberately cruel.” In this paper I develop the idea of a deontic “making” relation as an answer to Mackie. I begin with a brief discussion of some formal and metaphysical questions, but the chief concern of my paper is to examine the prospects of analysing the deontic making relation in terms of (single domain) supervenience. I argue that even in its best form, a supervenience analysis is neither necessary nor sufficient for ethical making.

I conclude my paper with an argument to the effect that, though supervenience may not illuminate deontic making, deontic making may illuminate the widely accepted supervenience of the moral on the non-moral. Moreover, because my argument is at least friendly to moral realism, it may permit an effective reply to Blackburn’s claim that moral realists cannot explain why the moral supervenes on the non-moral.

A copy of his paper can be found here. He would welcome any comments.


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