Moral expertise and the credentials problem

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (4):323-334 (2007)
Philosophers have harbored doubts about the possibility of moral expertise since Plato. I argue that irrespective of whether moral experts exist, identifying who those experts are is insurmountable because of the credentials problem: Moral experts have no need to seek out others’ moral expertise, but moral non-experts lack sufficient knowledge to determine whether the advice provided by a putative moral expert in response to complex moral situations is correct and hence whether an individual is a bone fide expert. Traditional accounts of moral expertise require that moral experts give reliably correct moral advice supported by adequate justification, an account which, I argue, is too lean in allowing for the possibility of a moral expert who is motivationally indifferent to her own moral judgments and advice. Yet even if the proposition that a moral expert is an individual who provides reliably correct moral advice supported by adequate justification and is necessarily motivated by that advice exhausts the necessary and sufficient conditions for moral expertise, this proposition cannot function as an applicable criterion for non-experts to use in appraising would-be experts’ claims to expertise. The credentials problem thus remains unanswered.
Keywords Justification  Moral expertise  Moral motivation  Moral knowledge  Plato
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.2307/40602529
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Peter Singer (1972). Moral Experts. Analysis 32 (4):115 - 117.
Bruce D. Weinstein (1994). The Possibility of Ethical Expertise. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 15 (1):1-187.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Justin Tiwald (2012). Xunzi on Moral Expertise. Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11 (3):275-293.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

80 ( #42,173 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

20 ( #41,183 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.