Morality is not like mathematics: The weakness of the math-moral analogy

Michael B. Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In both the early modern period and in contemporary debates, philosophers have argued that there are analogies between mathematics and morality that imply that the ontology and epistemology of morality are crucially similar to the ontology and epistemology of mathematics. I describe arguments for the math-moral analogy in four early modern philosophers (Locke, Cudworth, Clarke, and Balguy) and in three contemporary philosophers (Clarke-Doane, Peacocke, and Roberts). I argue that these arguments fail to establish important ontological and epistemological similarities between morality and mathematics. There are analogies between the two areas, but the disanalogies are more significant, undermining the attempt to confer on morality the same ontological and epistemological status that mathematics possesses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-216
Number of pages23
JournalSouthern Journal of Philosophy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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