Foundations for Moral Relativism

Foundations for Moral Relativism Author: J. David Velleman
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-909254-44-2 £12.95
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-909254-45-9 £29.95
PDF ISBN: 978-1-909254-46-6 £5.95

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It comes as no surprise that David Velleman's brief but dense new book is original, provocative, erudite, and seductive. Drawing on a characteristically broad range of non-philosophical sources
such as game studies, anthropology, and ethnomethodology he presents novel arguments in defense of moral relativism. [...] The exciting ideas it contains should nevertheless provide fresh impetus to metaethical debates about relativism. Velleman's admirable decision to publish the book for free online (as well as in paperback and hardback versions) will, I hope, further encourage anyone interested in the issues to study them.
Antti Kauppinen, Notre Dame Philosophical Review, 9 May 2015

In Foundations for Moral Relativism a distinguished moral philosopher tames a bugbear of current debate about cultural difference. J. David Velleman shows that different communities can indeed be subject to incompatible moralities, because their local mores are rationally binding. At the same time, he explains why the mores of different communities, even when incompatible, are still variations on the same moral themes. The book thus maps out a universe of many moral worlds without, as Velleman puts it, "moral black holes". The five self-standing chapters discuss such diverse topics as online avatars and virtual worlds, lying in Russian and truth-telling in Quechua, the pleasure of solitude and the fear of absurdity. Accessibly written, Foundations for Moral Relativism presupposes no prior training in philosophy.

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Title: Foundations for Moral Relativism
Author: J. David Velleman
Publication date: April 2013
Number of pages: x + 109
Dimensions: 6.14" x 9.21" | 234 x 156 mm
BIC subject codes: HPQ (Ethics and moral philosophy), HPS (Social and political philosophy), HR (Religion and beliefs)
ISBN Hardback: 9781909254459
ISBN Paperback: 9781909254442
ISBN Digital (PDF): 9781909254466
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 9781909254473
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 9781909254480
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0029

I. Introduction

II. Virtual Selves

III. Doables

IV. Foundations for Moral Relativism

V. Sociality and Solitude

VI. Life Absurd? Don’t Be Ridiculous


J. David Velleman is Professor of Philosophy at New York University. His work in the philosophy of action includes the book Practical Reflection (Princeton 1989) and a collection of papers, The Possibility of Practical Reason (reprinted 2009, University of Michigan). His papers on the self are collected in a volume entitled Self to Self (Cambridge 2006) and his book on the foundations of morality is entitled How We Get Along (Cambridge 2009). He has also published papers in bioethics and (with Paul Boghossian) on the metaphysics of color. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation, and he serves (with Stephen Darwall) as founding co-Editor of Philosophers' Imprint.