In Response to Reynold Spector

Ronald A. Lindsay


Reynold Spector has provided us with an ambitious and thought-provoking, if somewhat idiosyncratic, essay on ethics and the law. It makes for an interesting read, and he has several insightful observations. That said, I do have some areas of disagreement. More fundamentally, his argument as a whole is on my view inconsistent and self-defeating. To keep this response concise, I will confine myself to the two key flaws in Spector’s analysis.

Hume’s Law

Spector relies heavily on “Hume’s Law" to dismiss much of moral philosophy as unhelpful, including moral philosophy that makes use of facts about human nature. (See his remarks on Michael Shermer.) This is a misapplication of Hume’s key distinction between “is" statements and “ought" statements.

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