The argument from moral experience

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (5):469 - 484 (2007)
Abstract
It is often said that our moral experience, broadly construed to include our ways of thinking and talking about morality, has a certain objective-seeming character to it, and that this supports a presumption in favor of objectivist theories (according to which morality is a realm of facts or truths) and against anti-objectivist theories like Mackie’s error theory (according to which it is not). In this paper, I argue that our experience of morality does not support objectivist moral theories in this way. I begin by arguing that our moral experience does not have the uniformly objective-seeming character it is typically claimed to have. I go on to argue that even if moral experience were to presuppose or display morality as a realm of fact, we would still need a reason for taking that to support theories according to which it is such a realm. I consider what I take to be the four most promising ways of attempting to supply such a reason: (A) inference to the best explanation, (B) epistemic conservatism, (C) the Principle of Credulity, and (D) the method of wide reflective equilibrium. In each case, I argue, the strategy in question does not support a presumption in favor of objectivist moral theories.
Keywords Burden of proof  Conservatism  Ethics  Moral experience  Moral explanations  Moral phenomenology  Moral realism  Principle of credulity  Reflective equilibrium
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Citations of this work BETA
Richard Joyce (2009). Is Moral Projectivism Empirically Tractable? Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (1):53 - 75.
J. Jeremy Wisnewski (forthcoming). The Case for Moral Perception. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-20.
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