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Volume 34 Issue 4 (July 2003), Pages 387-538

When Subjectivism Matters (pages 510-523)

Abstract: In this article I consider when the question of whether entities exist subjectively (only in the minds of subjects) or objectively (in themselves, independently of the minds of subjects) is important, both theoretically and practically. I argue that when it comes to the metaphysics underlying three types of moral questions, broadly conceived, the subjectivity question does not matter practically, although it is widely thought to matter. Subjectivism does not matter in these moral questions in the same way(s) it matters in some nonmoral metaphysical issues. The moral questions I consider are the meaning of life, normative ethics, and the free‐will problem. The nonmoral issues I address are the existence of God, the traditional mind/body problem, and personal identity. I explain the difference by noting that certain metaphysical issues on the fact side of the fact/value distinction impinge on persons' lives more prominently than do the metaphysics behind the three moral questions.

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