Intuition as a basic source of moral knowledge

Philosophia 35 (2):233-247 (2007)
Abstract
  The idea that intuition plays a basic role in moral knowledge and moral philosophy probably began in the eighteenth century. British philosophers such as Anthony Shaftsbury, Francis Hutcheson, Thomas Reid, and later David Hume talk about a “moral sense” that they place in John Locke’s theory of knowledge in terms of Lockean reflexive perceptions, while Richard Price seeks a faculty by which we obtain our ideas of right and wrong. In the twentieth century intuitionism in moral philosophy was revived by the works of G. E. Moore, H. A. Prichard, and W. D. Ross. These philosophers reject Kantian deontological ethics and utilitarianism insisting that intuition is the only source of moral knowledge. Recently, there is a renewed interest in intuition by philosophers doing meta-philosophy by reflecting on what philosophers do, and why they disagree. In this essay we plan to take some of this recent literature on intuition and apply it to moral philosophy. We will proceed by (1) defining a conception of intuition, (2) answering some skeptical challenges, (3) delimiting its target, and (4) arguing that intuition is often a source of moral knowledge.
Keywords Intuition  Moral knowledge  Nonsensory perception
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