Challenges to Audi's ethical intuitionism

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 5 (4):391-413 (2002)
Robert Audi's ethical intuitionism (Audi, 1997, 1998) deals effectively with standard epistemological problems facing the intuitionist. This is primarily because the notion of self-evidence employed by Audi commits to very little. Importantly, according to Audi we might understand a self-evident moral proposition and yet not believe it, and we might accept a self-evident proposition because it is self-evident, and yet fail to see that it is self-evident. I argue that these and similar features give rise to certain challenges to Audi's intuitionism. It becomes harder to argue that there are any self-evident propositions at all, or more than just a few such propositions. It is questionable whether all moral propositions that we take an interest in are evidentially connected to self-evident propositions. It is difficult to understand what could guide the sort conceptual revision that is likely to take place in our moral theorising. It is hard to account for the epistemic value of the sort of systematicity usually praised in moral theorising. Finally, it is difficult to see what difference the truth of Audi's ethical intuitionism would make to the way in which we (fail to) handle moral disagreement.
Keywords conceptual revision  ethical intuitionism  moral arguments  moral dialectics  moral epistemology  Robert Audi  systematicity  self-evidence  W.D. Ross
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