Folk moral objectivism

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This PhD thesis presents an investigation into the thesis of “folk moral objectivism” (FMO). According to FMO, people believe that moral judgments are objectively true or false. In my first chapter, I review existing research and I evaluate whether or not they provide evidence for or against FMO. My investigation reveals that it unclear whether they provide genuine evidence. In the second chapter, I present research in which I investigate whether an existing psychological construct (“perceived objectivity”) measures moral objectivism or also related metaethical views. My results suggest the latter. In Chapter 3, I argue that it is unclear whether measurement instruments used previously measure implicit or explicit commitments. I present an investigation specifically focusing on the former. The results suggest that a majority of people seems to implicitly believe that FMO is true. In the fourth chapter, I explore whether people believe in the possibility of moral progress, knowledge, and error. The results show that people believe this applies to scientific statements but less so for moral statements or statements about personal preferences or conventions. Overall, my research reveals that we should be careful in interpreting empirical results as evidence against FMO. First, previous studies do not always measure what is relevant for FMO. Second, the studies in this thesis do not provide univocal evidence for it. Third, an ultimate verdict requires a thorough investigation of the distinction between implicit and explicit commitments. If FMO is true, this is not immediately obvious if we look at empirical data.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Hindriks, Frank, Supervisor
  • Verplaetse, J., Supervisor, External person
  • Evers, Daan, Co-supervisor
Award date19-Dec-2019
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978 90 361 0596 5
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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