A couple of years ago I had a post here on Ethics Etc (Folk Morality and Philosophical Ethics) reporting some data we had collected about folk views concerning the status of morality.  That research project eventually yielded a  co-authored paper in Mind & Language.

More recently (and more awesomely) the intrepid experimental filmmaker Ben Coonley put together a fantastic, short film based on that paper, starring Amanda Palmer:  Folk Moral Relativism in 3-D  (grab those red/blue 3-D glasses if you have them!)

Moral philosophers disagree about a lot of stuff.  They disagree, for example, on whether moral properties exist and, if so, what the heck they are and how we have knowledge of them; on whether one can derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ and, if not, whether this really matters or not; on whether moral judgments are the deliverances of affective or purely cognitive faculties; on whether moral omissions have the same status as moral comissions; and a whole lot besides.

One particular claim, though, seems to have widespread endorsement—the claim that ordinary folk are objectivists when it comes to morality.  According to this view, ordinary folk believe moral issues admit of a single correct answer, and reject the idea that two people with conflicting positions on a moral issue may both be right.  This claim of  ‘folk objectivism’ enjoys a surprising degree of consensus, and can be found in the works of a diverse range of moral philosophers with disparate theoretical commitments (e.g. Blackburn 1984; Brink 1989; Gibbard 1992; Mackie 1977; Shafer-Landau 2003).  It is a datum that most metaethical theories try to vindicate or accommodate.  But is this claim correct?  The answer would seem to be important, as the claim of folk objectivism has played a significant role in theorizing about the nature of ethics.

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