Explaining Moral Knowledge

Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (1):35-56 (2014)
Abstract
In this paper I assess the viability of a particularist explanation of moral knowledge. First, I consider two arguments by Sean McKeever and Michael Ridge that purport to show that a generalist, principle-based explanation of practical wisdom—understood as the ability to acquire moral knowledge in a wide range of situations—is superior to a particularist, non-principle-based account. I contend that both arguments are unsuccessful. Then, I propose a particularist-friendly explanation of knowledge of particular moral facts. I argue that when we are careful to keep separate the various explanatory tasks at hand we can see that a particularist-friendly explanation of the fact that (e.g.,) Jane knows that A is morally right might not be so difficult to come by. Moreover, I suggest that a particularist approach to explaining knowledge of particular moral facts may go some way towards discharging the challenge of moral scepticism.
Keywords Particularism  Generalism  Moral Epistemology
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Michael Ridge (2005). The Many Moral Particularisms. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 35 (1):83 - 106.
Uri D. Leibowitz (2009). A Defense of a Particularist Research Program. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (2):181 - 199.
Pekka Väyrynen (2011). Moral Particularism. In Christian B. Miller (ed.), Continuum Companion to Ethics. Continuum. 478-483.
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