"Could Our Epistemic Reasons Be Collective Practical Reasons?" 

Forthcoming in Noûs

The Early View version is available here


Research Program

I work in Metaethics, Ethics, and Epistemology. 

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

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). I consider the view a form of relativism; the view is designed to be responsive to the sorts of metaethical considerations that generally draw people to forms of antirealism, while also avoiding some of the least plausible implications of those views. Click here for a two-page dissertation summary.

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 normative responsibility.

I also have an 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/Exact Title TBA

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 metaethical moral realism over a variety of rival antirealist and relativist views.

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

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

(Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Vol. 15, Ed. Russ Shafer-Landau, 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 metaethical 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 metaethical 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 attitudes regarding whether 'ought implies can' in the epistemic 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