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On Metaethics: A Reverie

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2020

Francis Sparshott*
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
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Extract

People engaged in teaching and research in philosophy departments are under strong and constant -pressure to believe that what they are doing makes sense. Their belief may well be rooted in an initial project, formed autonomously under the guidance of teachers and fellow students; even so, it will continue to be shaped and confirmed by the requirements of peer approval and student satisfaction. The hungry sheep keep looking up. Sheer humanity requires us to show enthusiasm for what we dispense as nutrition, and a convincing display of conviction requires that we start by convincing ourselves. But in retirement all this falls apart. Often, perhaps usually, an element of belief and devotion is maintained, because the formed ego of the retiree is that of self-as-teacher or self-as-philosopher. But if, as may well be, the retiree's philosophizing was undertaken merely as gainful employment, things rapidly come to pieces. In these circumstances, a request for a paper on metaethics or any other loosely defined topic may bewilder. What, really, could be at issue here? Or so it seems. But there is something factitious in this bewilderment.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Authors 1995

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