Volume 13, Issue 4, Winter 1991
Callicott’s “Metaphysics of Morals”
In his campaign against moral pluralism, J. Baird Callicott has attempted to bring “theoretical unity and closure” to environmental ethics by providing a “metaphysics of morals” encompassing environmental, interpersonal, and social concems, as weIl as concems for domesticated animals. The central notion in this metaphysics is the community concept. I discuss two quite different, and separable, aspects of Callicott’s project. First, I argue that his metaphysics of morals does not provide ethical unity and closure. Second, and less specifically focused on Callicott, I discuss the thesis that we can derive ethical obligations from descriptions of the structures of the various communities to which we belong.