Mill's Antirealism

Macleod, Christopher (2016) Mill's Antirealism. The Philosophical Quarterly, 66 (263). pp. 261-279. ISSN 0031-8094

[thumbnail of Mill's Antirealism]
PDF (Mill's Antirealism)
Mill_s_Antirealism.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (108kB)


One of Mill’s primary targets, throughout his work, is intuitionism. In this paper, I distinguish two strands of intuitionism, against which Mill offers separate arguments. The first strand, ‘a priorism’ makes an epistemic claim about how we come to know norms. The second strand, ‘first principle pluralism’, makes a structural claim about how many fundamental norms there are. In this paper, I suggest that one natural reading of Mill’s argument against first principle pluralism is incompatible with the naturalism that drives his argument against a priorism. It must, therefore, be discarded. Such a reading, however, covertly attributes Mill realist commitments about the normative. These commitments are unnecessary. To the extent that Mill’s argument against first principle pluralism is taken seriously, I suggest, it is an argument that points towards Mill as having an antirealist approach to the normative.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
The Philosophical Quarterly
Additional Information:
This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in The Philosophical Quartley following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Christopher Macleod Mill's Antirealism The Philosophical Quarterly 2016 66: 261-279 is available online at:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
13 Jul 2015 08:40
Last Modified:
19 Sep 2023 01:24