Moral Intuitions And Their Reliability

Date

2019-05-01

Authors

Lawless, Morgan

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Abstract

Philosophers often defer to intuition when discussing ethics. It is common to evaluate an ethical theory by comparing its suggested action in a dilemma to what intuition suggests. A theory that aligns with intuition is said to be more credible, while one that does not align is said to be less credible. But in other cases, philosophers suggest discarding intuition in favor of what theory prescribes. The trouble with these practices is knowing when to trust intuition and when to trust theory. Philosophers and psychologists give convincing arguments to doubt the reliability of ethical intuitions, but I come to their defense in this paper. I argue that intuitions are reliable enough to use as starting points to form ethical beliefs. I explain how understanding the relationship between intuitions and beliefs can help settle moral disagreement. Lastly, I attempt to improve upon the standard resolution to the intuition versus theory problem, known as reflective equilibrium.

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