with Spencer Greenberg
the podcast about ideas that matter

Episode 139: Mapping metaethics (with Lance Bush)

January 6, 2023

What is metaethics? Is moral objectivism the same thing as moral realism? When philosophers examine sentences like "Murder is wrong", are they generally more interested in (1) the role that the language is playing in a social interaction (e.g., that it's an imperative or that it expresses an emotion) or (2) the concepts themselves and their relations? Could it be the case that all moral statements are false? What do we know about how people actually use moral language in everyday life? Or do people even have any idea what they're doing when they use moral language? We're familiar with the idea that cultures vary in how they emphasize and value moral concepts; but are there cultures that have radically different moral concepts than our own (i.e., cultures that might not even have the concepts of modesty or honor in the first place, or that might have moral concepts that have never occurred to us)? Are there cultures that have have no moral concepts at all? What does it really mean to say that someone "should" do something? What is the use of intuition in philosophy? Where is philosophy going wrong today?

Lance S. Bush is a PhD student in social psychology at Cornell University. Most of his research focuses on moral psychology, metaethics, and methodological issues in experimental philosophy. He is also interested in psychological factors relevant to effective altruism and existential risk, particularly cognitive biases, reputational concerns, and other psychological phenomena that inhibit altruism and concern for the distant future. Email him at or learn more about him at

Further reading:

Click here to return to the list of all episodes.


Sign up to receive one helpful idea and one brand-new podcast episode each week!

Subscribe via RSS or through one of the major podcast platforms:


Host / Director
Spencer Greenberg

Josh Castle

Audio Engineer
Ryan Kessler

Uri Bram

Janaisa Baril

Lee Rosevere
Josh Woodward
Broke for Free
Quiet Music for Tiny Robots

Please note that Clearer Thinking , Mind Ease , and UpLift are all affiliated with this podcast.