There are two main positions in metaethical discussions. The first, cognitivist, position is that moral evaluations may be true or untrue, and the second, internalist, position is that these evaluations guide actions such that the agent is internally motivated to act based on the content of that evaluation. These two positions conflict. Cognitivism has to deal with the problem of moral motivation, and internalism has to explain the relevance of moral evaluations. In this article we will explore the moral philosophy of Philippa Foot as presented in her Natural Goodness. Our aim is to reconstruct and explain Foot’s arguments in favour of cognitivist and externalist views. Hence the final part proffers a summary of the metaethical aspects of Foot’s moral philosophy, and thereby highlights both the originality and contribution it makes to contemporary ethical thinking, and sketches a constructivist interpretation of Foot’s moral philosophy that emphasises the function of practical reason in constituting moral normativity.
Metaethics, Cognitivism, Naturalism, Constructivism, Internalism, Externalism, P. Foot