As part of metaethical quasi-realism, a noncognitivist (expressivist and projectivist) position which attempts to justify the use of realist language without committing itself fully to cognitivism or metaphyical realism about moral properties, it is often stated that moral facts and their mind-independence are internal to moral discourse, and that the claim to mind-independence is a moral claim in itself (stated here in the abstract and here on page 16). Can someone please explain and attempt to justify this? I don't understand how a descriptive fact about the mind-independence of morality is a moral claim. Thanks.

  • Please add some information about quasi-realism as a position of metaethics. And also a reference" that the claim to mind-independence is a moral claim in itself." Thanks.
    – Jo Wehler
    Jan 21 at 20:55
  • @JoWehler Done!
    – edelex
    Jan 21 at 22:06
  • The justification for this claim lies in the recognition that our moral discourse often involves language that seems to treat moral claims as if they correspond to mind-independent facts. And quasi-realism aims to explain this linguistic phenomenon without committing to the existence of such mind-independent ontological facts in its metaethical position. It's an attempt to reconcile our moral discourse with a non-cognitivist understanding while acknowledging the normativity inherent in moral language. In summary ought implies can, but not is... Jan 22 at 7:10

1 Answer 1


Quasi-realists argue that moral language doesn't just describe moral realities, but also expresses our moral attitudes and commitments. So a moral claim like "Stealing is wrong" doesn't merely report a moral fact, but also expresses disapproval of stealing. The claim "Moral facts exist objectively and independently of what any individual or group believes" looks like a descriptive, metaphysical claim. But for quasi-realists, this too expresses an implicit moral attitude - something like valuing moral objectivity and commitment to real moral truths.

So asserting the mind-independence of morality expresses that we care about getting moral questions right, that merely subjective or relative moralities are deficient, and so on. These stances themselves have an evaluative aspect and display moral commitment.

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