The Good in the Right [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Croatian Journal of Philosophy 5 (15):583-589 (2005)
In his recent book The Good in the Right Robert Audi presents one of the most complete contemporary arguments for moral intuitionism. By clearing-out of unnecessary and out-of-date posits and commitments of traditional intuitionist accounts he manages to establish a moderate (and in a sense also minimal) version of intuitionism that can be further developed metaethically (e.g. Kantian intuitionism, value-based intuitionism) as well as normatively (e.g. by varying the list of prima facie duties). Central posits of his study of moral intuitionism are various epistemological commitments, as, for instance, the nature of self-evident moral judgments, intuition and moral knowledge. He usefully distinguishes between two uses/notions of intuitionism in moral philosophy, the epistemological one and the overall one. Epistemological intuitionism is a position claiming that the basic moral beliefs and principles could be known non-inferentially and are justified through their understanding or intuitions. Overall moral intuitionism is built upon three basic features: (a) moral pluralism: there is an irreducible plurality of basic moral commitments (principles, prima facie duties); (b) each of the principles aims to a different kind of ground for action that underlies e.g. the prima facie duty in question and is epistemically accessible to ordinary moral agents; and (c) each moral principle is in some sense intuitively known by those who adequately understand it. (Audi 2004, 21) W. D. Ross's ethics is a paradigm case of the latter position, while other prominent representatives of either epistemological or overall intuitionism are H. Sidgwick, G. E. Moore, H. A. Prichard, C. D. Broad, and A. C. Ewing.
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