Ethical Intuitionism is a book (hardcover release: , paperback release: ) by University of Colorado philosophy professor Michael Huemer. Michael Huemer. University of Colorado, Boulder. Abstract. This book defends a form of ethical intuitionism, according to which (i) there are objective moral. In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in Ethical Intuitionism, ( ), Bedke (), Huemer (), Shafer-Landau (), Stratton-lake.

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And we cannot confirm that memories are intuitionim signs of past events, since we have no means independent of memory of accessing the past. But it is no argument against intuitive knowledge to say that it cannot be accounted for by any of the non-intuitive means we have of knowing things.

Oxford University Press, We have evolved to feel instant approval of acts that benefit our group, such as those that exemplify reciprocal trust, and honesty, and thus enhance our chances of intuituonism, and to feel disapproval of acts such as deceit, and betrayal, that undermine trust and the benefits that brings.

First, a conscious intuition is a certain mental state, either a non-inferential belief or an intellectual seeming. Many philosophers complain either that they don’t know what an intuition is or that the term ‘intuition’ is essentially empty and provides no account at all of how one might know something. The analogy Prichard draws with mathematics should if anything suggest to us that derivative items of ethical knowledge might far outnumber intuitive ones.

In order to ascertain that, it seems that we would need to observe a number of cases in which a person had an intuition, compare these intuitions with the facts, and see whether there is generally a correlation. The question is whether the fact that the statement expresses is dependent on a convention–that is, whether, once the meaning of the statement is fixed, convention plays some further role in determining whether what is said is true.

As the above remarks suggest, one reason for this is that some intuitions are simply stronger, or more clearly seem true, than others. They disagree erhical about the empirical, non-moral facts. Perhaps the point is that Louise would be justified in thinking that eating meat is not wrong, if she were to have a corresponding ethical intuihionism. The former does not imply the latter. It may be that the reason that Ross switches between making the stronger claim that self-evident propositions cannot be justified, and the weaker claim that they need no justification, is that he had in mind a belief in some self-evident proposition when he said they could be justified, and our intuition apprehension of that proposition when he said that they could not.


Intuitionism in Ethics

The more general debate is about whether intuitions provide evidence for believing or rejecting certain theories, whereas the intuitionist needs intuitions to justify beliefs with the same content. But all intuitionists maintained that at least one of these moral properties is simple, or indefinable. I have seen many colored objects, and none of them have ever been both red and green. Now consider in outline one of the arguments for nihilism:.

But if all practical reasons must be able to latch onto something we care about, then no reasons are categorical in the Kantian sense. An adequate understanding is necessary for one to be justified in this way, but this is not because understanding provides justification; rather, it is because it is needed to get the proposition clearly in view, and so enables a clear intuition of it. Nothing can be both entirely red and entirely green.

A proposition is just self-evident, not self-evident to someone. They could maintain that some intuitions are apprehensions, and some are intellectual seemings.

There are two replies to these worries. Likewise, it is unclear how I might go about checking on the general reliability of memory, without relying on memory; on the reliability of inductive reasoning, without relying on induction; or on the reliability of reason in general, without relying on reason. So goodness cannot be defined as causes pleasure. But this difference is morally irrelevant, so if this explanation is right, then our intuitions are distorted by at least one morally irrelevant factor.

Scanlon has argued that goodness is to be understood as something’s having properties that give us reason to have a pro-attitude towards it95and like the intuitionist view about goodness and rightness, he thinks that the notion of a reason cannot be understood in other, non-normative terms So even if no empirical investigation can show that a moral and a non-moral term pick out the same property, this might still be shown by a priori reflection.


These internal states should not be allowed to supplant the real objects in our philosophy; their central function is that of vehicles of the awareness of external things. They do not produce physical effects, so they do not affect our brain processes, so they probably do not affect our mental processes either. The same is true of all logical principles.

Ethical Intuitionism (book) – Wikipedia

The unreliable process is basing them on intuitions that are systematically distorted by morally irrelevant factors, such as order or wording. Grasping comes in degrees: All men are inconsiderate. We can call this the method of reflective equilibrium. There is a lever that would divert the trolley onto a different track. The problem with intuitions is that we can never check whether an ethical intuition is correct, without relying on intuition.

He believes that the widget is red…. On this picture, which seems to me wholly right, all the meta-ethical views other than Intuitionism that Huemer considers, including Cornell realism, are fundamentally alike in embracing a Monist worldview. Our intuitions about example 3 are clearer and more certain than those about examples 1 and 2. It is not as though the intuitionist immediately refers every moral question to intuition, with no possibility of further discussion or reasoning.

I have said enough to show why we are prima facie justified in rejecting this. For instance, our intuitions seem to be affected by whether we word our scenario in terms of killing or saving, and by the order in which the trolley examples are considered.

Some moral truths are known intuitively; that is, non-inferentially, but not through sense-experience.

For Socrates’ sake, I think we should shift to conventions of that kind. But a self-evident proposition is not a conscious mental state. They might, for example, want an analysis that helps explain why some things rather than others are good, and which explains the connection between the properties that make something good, and its goodness.