Nature, virtue, moral norm: Naturalistic and constructivist approaches (workshop)

Nature, virtue, moral norm: Naturalistic and constructivist approaches was the first workshop within the project APVV-22-0397: "Naturalism and constructivism as competing or complementary programs" and was held on October 13, 2023 at the Faculty of Arts of the Comenius University in Bratislava. Three speakers presented their contributions from the broader field of naturalism and constructivism in normative ethics and metaethics.
   Doc. Mgr. et Mgr. Marian Kuna, MA, MPhil, PhD. from the Faculty of Arts of the KU in Ružomberok opened the workshop with the contribution Biological embedding of virtues by the late A. MacIntyre. In it, he presented MacIntyre's concept of ethical neo-Aristotelianism and naturalism, which is based on the animal concept of man as a creature dependent on other members of his own species and even "disabled" in the sense of vulnerability to many evils. From this understanding, he subsequently explained the author's derivation of virtues and ethical values, especially uncalculated giving, noble receiving, gratitude and due diligence.
   As part of the discussion, docent Kuna answered mainly questions regarding the relationship between MacIntyre's concept and constructivism and biological, or naturalistic anchoring of this concept.
   The second lecturer was Mgr. Roman Hloch, PhD. from the OSU Faculty of Arts in Ostrava with the contribution Human ergon and the nature of virtues between Aristotle and R. Hursthouse. He devoted it to the analysis and comparison of the so-called "ergon argument" in Aristotle and Rosalind Hursthouse, who advocates its more modern articulation. These authors mainly agree that man has a specifically species-specific function and purpose, which are based on human reason. However, according to Dr. Hloch, they differ in their understanding of psychology as metaphysical (Aristotle) vs. folk (Hursthouse) and in the binding of reason to a supernatural entity.
   The discussion mainly focused on Hursthouse's understanding of folk psychology and the metaphysical commitments of her understanding of human teleology.
   The third and last lecturer was the principal investigator prof. Michal Chabada, PhD., whose talk Constructivist explanation of moral normativity according to Ch. M. Korsgaard analyzed Korsgaard's procedural normative realism. According to this theory, there are “right and wrong ways to answer moral questions because there are correct procedures for arriving at them.” These correct procedures are not random, but governed by Kantian-inspired moral principles. This theory understands morality as the result of human autonomy, and yet as authoritative and objective.
   In particular, prof. Chabada answered questions regarding the source of the normative status of principles of construction and the persuasiveness of transcendental arguments in general.
   One final note: the relationship between naturalistic and constructivist understandings of morality seemed to be at times complementary, at other times strained. They seemed complementary in formulating conceptions of man that were based on biology and evolutionary theory and at the same time perceived morality as fundamentally derived from human constitution. However, they seemed to be in tension mainly in metaphysical questions, such as the question of free will in Korsgaard, or the question of the place of metaphysical teleology in virtue ethics.

                                              Adam Greif