I am writing an excursus on contemporary naturalism for my thesis. In fact, after a brief introduction to the subject of moral philosophy and to ethical naturalism, I will analyze the Duke manifesto "Naturalizing ethics" and try to give an account of the implicit metaethics and normative ethics one may infer from the statements in the manifesto.

With respect to the excursus on contemporary naturalism, I am considering your classification in Michigan, Rutgers and Pittsburgh naturalism, and "bald naturalism".

While I can easily identify the authors supporting the latter two forms of naturalism (McDowell for Pittsburgh and Mackie for bald naturalism), I am facing difficulties tracking back the representatives of Michigan and Rutgers ethical naturalism. Hence, I hope that you are willing to help me by providing the relevant references, and (of course) to correct me if am wrong about the other two forms of ethical naturalism.

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    Where are you getting those categories from? No idea why Michigan and Rutgers count as categories. More importantly, Cornell Realism (Sturgeon, Brink, ...) would be missing. For Michigan, two big names in metaethics come to mind: Railton and Gibbard. Those hold different positions ofc, as Gibbard is Expressivist. Hence, if anyone would count as representative for Moral Naturalism for Michigan, I'd argue it would have to be Railton.
    – Marc H.
    May 25, 2018 at 17:51
  • Ah, just skimmed "Naturalizing Ethics". Well, they just name the categories in a footnote without explanation. So yea, no surprise that I've not heard of it. In the article it said that some explanation will have to wait for another paper. I checked but unfortunately couldn't find anything.
    – Marc H.
    May 25, 2018 at 18:32
  • 'Duke naturalism' identified - see answer.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Jun 25, 2018 at 8:46

1 Answer 1


The following is a footnote in Naturalized Bioethics: toward responsible knowing and practice CUP 2009

11 A lively discussion of trends and programs in ethical naturalism is found in Flanagan et al. 2008. If Flanagan is correct that different forms of ethical naturalism are now distinctive enough to warrant labels (“Duke naturalism,” “Pittsburgh naturalism,” “Australian naturalism,” and “Michigan naturalism”), perhaps we do well to put our brand on “Groningen naturalism.”

Flanagan, Owen, Hagop Sarkissian, and David Wong. 2008. Naturalizing ethics. In Moral psychology, vol. 1: The evolution of morality: Adaptations and innateness, ed. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

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