Volume 14, Issue 1, 2014
Moral Twin Earth, Intuitions, and Kind Terms
Horgan and Timmons, with their Moral Twin Earth arguments, argue that the new moral realism falls prey to either objectionable relativism or referential indeterminacy. The Moral Twin Earth thought experiment on which the arguments are based relies in crucial ways on the use of intuitions. First, it builds on Putnam’s well-known Twin Earth example and the conclusions drawn from that about the meaning of kind names. Further, it relies on the intuition that were Earthers and Twin Earthers to meet, they would be able to have genuine moral disagreements. I will argue that the similarities with Putnam’s thought experiment are questionable and so the reliance on Putnam-like intuitions is questionable. I will then further argue that even if we accept the intuitions that Horgan and Timmons rely on, the anti-realist conclusion is not warranted due to there being more to the meaning of kind terms than the argument assumes. Once we develop the meaning of kind terms further we can acknowledge both that Earthers and Twin Earthers refer to different properties with their moral terms, and that in spite of that they can have a substantive disagreement due to a shared meaning component.