In cases where two human cultures disagree over fundamental ethical values, questions about what could make one or the other position correct arise with great force. Philosophers committed to naturalistically plausible accounts of ethics have offered little hope of adjudicating such conflicts, leading some to embrace moral relativism. This project develops an empirically grounded response to moral relativism, inspired by Buddhist suggestions that we can know how to live wisely by being more fully and accurately aware of our own emotional motivations. On my approach, the experiential ease and unease that is characteristic of various emotional motivations in virtue of our shared human neurobiology can ground a circumscribed set of universal ethical claims, while leaving many other aspects of how we ought to live open to cultural determination.

Jake Davis

CUNY Graduate Center