"Could Our Epistemic Reasons Be Collective Practical Reasons?" 

Forthcoming in Noûs

The Early View version is available here


Research Program

I work in Meta-Ethics, Ethics, and Epistemology. 

I have defended a novel relativist theory of the origins of our different kinds of normative reasons- including moral reasons, self-interested practical reasons, epistemic reasons, and reasons of additional kinds as well.

My dissertation first proposed a version of this view, focusing especially on the differences between moral vs. other practical reasons. The proposed theory draws upon insights from the growing philosophical literature on group agency; I think that what we have moral reason to do is determined in large part by social goals (unlike self-interested practical reasons, which arise in connection with our individual attitudes).

Some of my most recent work builds upon the views I first explored in the dissertation by further developing the idea of a social source of epistemic reasons.

My work with group agency for the dissertation project has led me to think more about what it means to be an agent in the first place, and about how exactly status as an agent is tied to responsibility.

I also have a serious ongoing interest in the epistemology of moral beliefs.


Papers by Topic

Arguments for Normative Antirealism:

- "Bad bootstrapping: the problem with third-factor replies to the Darwinian Dilemma for moral realism"

(Philosophical Studies, 177, pp. 2115-2128, 2020)

I defend Street’s (2006) 'Darwinian Dilemma' against the third-factor replies popularized by Enoch (2010, 2011), Skarsaune (2011) and Wielenberg (2010, 2014). I argue that such replies are question-begging. I do so by drawing upon the epistemic literature on bootstrapping, which is an intuitively illegitimate form of reasoning.

- “Ethical Intuitionism and the Comparison to Visual Perception: In Good Company or Guilty by Association?” 

I am currently at work on a paper in which I argue that we may grant the intuitionist that moral intuitions provide prima facie justification for moral beliefs and yet this does nothing to vindicate meta-ethical moral realism over a variety of rival antirealist and relativist views.

My Own Meta-Normative View (a form of relativism):

- “Group Agency Meets Meta-Ethics: How to Craft a More Compelling Form of Normative Relativism

(Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Vol. 15, Ed. Russ Shafer-Landau, forthcoming 2020, Oxford University Press)

I show how we can draw upon the claim that societies are agents in their own right in order to formulate a novel version of relativism about moral reasons and reasons of practical rationality that avoids key problems faced by well-known version of relativism while still answering to the same meta-ethical motivations (such as epistemological arguments) that typically attract philosophers to those views.

- "Could Our Epistemic Reasons Be Collective Practical Reasons?" 

(Forthcoming in Noûs)

I argue that by drawing upon the idea of epistemic communities with investigative goals, we can account for epistemic reasons in an instrumental manner that avoids epistemic analogues of typical meta-ethical objections to realism as well as the main objections to epistemic instrumentalism emphasized by Thomas Kelly (2003).

On Agency, Responsibility & Responding to Reasons

- Title suppressed 

(Under review)

I offer a general characterization of the constitutive requirements of agency. The view seeks to recognize group agents without overgeneralizing.

- "Ought Implies Can and the Analogy Between Epistemic and Moral Reasons"

In this new work in progress, I investigate whether epistemologists' typical approach to the idea that 'ought implies can' in the case of what we ought to believe in order to be rational can teach ethicists potentially useful lessons about the kind of freedom or control over one's behavior that is (or is not) required for moral responsibility.


©2016 by Michelle M. Dyke