Moral Rationalism

Edited by Christopher Michael Cloos (University of California at Santa Barbara)
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  1. What Sentimentalists Should Say About Emotions.Charlie Kurth - forthcoming - Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
    Recent work by emotion researchers indicates that emotions have a multi-level structure. Sophisticated sentimentalists should take note of this work—for it better enables them to defend a substantive role for emotion in moral cognition. Contra the rationalist criticisms of May 2018, emotions are not only able to carry morally relevant information but can also substantially influence moral judgment and reasoning.
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  2. Moral Knowledge By Deduction.Declan Smithies - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    How is moral knowledge possible? This paper defends the anti-Humean thesis that we can acquire moral knowledge by deduction from wholly non-moral premises. According to Hume’s Law, as it has become known, we cannot deduce an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’, since it is “altogether inconceivable how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it” (Hume, 1739, 3.1.1). This paper explores the prospects for a deductive theory of moral knowledge that rejects Hume’s Law.
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  3. Morality and Practical Reasons.Douglas W. Portmore - 2021 - Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
    As Socrates famously noted, there is no more important question than how we ought to live. The answer to this question depends on how the reasons that we have for living in various different ways combine and compete. To illustrate, suppose that I've just received a substantial raise. What should I do with the extra money? I have most moral reason to donate it to effective charities but most self-interested reason to spend it on luxuries for myself. So, whether I (...)
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  4. Cooperative Intuitionism.Stephen Ingram - 2020 - The Philosophical Quarterly 70 (281):780-799.
    According to pluralistic intuitionist theories, some of our moral beliefs are non-inferentially justified, and these beliefs come in both an a priori and an a posteriori variety. In this paper I present new support for this pluralistic form of intuitionism by examining the deeply social nature of moral inquiry. This is something that intuitionists have tended to neglect. It does play an important role in an intuitionist theory offered by Bengson, Cuneo, and Shafer-Landau (forth), but whilst they invoke the social (...)
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  5. A Brief Explanation of Kant's Enlightenment Article.Florian Millo - 2020
    A presentation of Kant's idea for enlightenment process that was happening at that time. I try to be objective as it is needed to give a thorough explanation for what was the main subject in this process. Kant explains the main idea of enlightenment and describes it with examples for which stands descriptive and understandable for that period.
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  6. Why Moral Epistemology is Not Just Epistemology Applied to Moral Beliefs.Sushruth Ravish & Chaitanya Joshi - 2020 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 34 (4):71-92.
    The current discourse on moral epistemology (ME), has hardly paid any attention to the question concerning the demarcation of the domain of ME within epistemology. Neither is the subject matter of ME considered unique, nor is the methodology adopted in its investigations considered distinct. We attempt to show in this paper that this omission does not restrict itself to a mere taxonomical oversight but rather leads to certain deeper conceptual concerns. We argue that a casual and porous understanding of the (...)
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  7. Value Disagreement, Action, and Commitment.Sergio Tenenbaum - 2020 - In Katja Vogt & Justin Vlasits (eds.), Epistemology After Sextus Empiricus. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 291-311.
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  8. Analyzing Debunking Arguments in Moral Psychology: Beyond the Counterfactual Analysis of Influence by Irrelevant Factors.Joanna Demaree-Cotton - 2019 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 42 (e151):15-17.
    May assumes that if moral beliefs are counterfactually dependent on irrelevant factors, then those moral beliefs are based on defective belief-forming processes. This assumption is false. Whether influence by irrelevant factors is debunking depends on the mechanisms through which this influence occurs. This raises the empirical bar for debunkers and helps May avoid an objection to his Debunker’s Dilemma.
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  9. What Is Sentimentalism? What Is Rationalism? Commentary on Joshua May.Antti Kauppinen - 2019 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 42:e157.
    In Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind, Joshua May argues successfully that many claims about the causal influence of affect on moral judgment are overblown. But the findings he cites are compatible with many of the key arguments of philosophical sentimentalists. His account of rationalism, in turn, relies on an overly broad notion of inference, and leaves open crucial questions about how we reason to moral conclusions.
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  10. Immorality and Irrationality.Alex Worsnip* - 2019 - Philosophical Perspectives 33 (1):220-253.
    Does immorality necessarily involve irrationality? The question is often taken to be among the deepest in moral philosophy. But apparently deep questions sometimes admit of deflationary answers. In this case we can make way for a deflationary answer by appealing to dualism about rationality, according to which there are two fundamentally distinct notions of rationality: structural rationality and substantive rationality. I have defended dualism elsewhere. Here, I’ll argue that it allows us to embrace a sensible – I will not say (...)
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  11. “Reflective Efficacy. On Neil Sinhababu Humean Nature".Carla Bagnoli - 2018 - Rivista Italiana di Filosofia E Psicologia 1 (9):67-72.
    This is a contribution to the symposium on Neil Sinhababu Humean Nature.
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  12. Constrained by Reason, Transformed by Love: Murdoch on the Standard of Proof.Carla Bagnoli - 2018 - In Browning Gary (ed.), Truth and Love. London: London: Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 63-88.
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  13. Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind.Joshua May - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
    The burgeoning science of ethics has produced a trend toward pessimism. Ordinary moral thought and action, we’re told, are profoundly influenced by arbitrary factors and ultimately driven by unreasoned feelings. This book counters the current orthodoxy on its own terms by carefully engaging with the empirical literature. The resulting view, optimistic rationalism, shows the pervasive role played by reason, and ultimately defuses sweeping debunking arguments in ethics. The science does suggest that moral knowledge and virtue don’t come easily. However, despite (...)
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  14. Moral Reasoning and Emotion.Joshua May & Victor Kumar - 2018 - In Karen Jones, Mark Timmons & Aaron Zimmerman (eds.), Routledge Handbook on Moral Epistemology. Routledge. pp. 139-156.
    This chapter discusses contemporary scientific research on the role of reason and emotion in moral judgment. The literature suggests that moral judgment is influenced by both reasoning and emotion separately, but there is also emerging evidence of the interaction between the two. While there are clear implications for the rationalism-sentimentalism debate, we conclude that important questions remain open about how central emotion is to moral judgment. We also suggest ways in which moral philosophy is not only guided by empirical research (...)
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  15. Naturalistic Moral Realism, Moral Rationalism, and Non-Fundamental Epistemology.Tristram McPherson - 2018 - In Karen Jones & Francois Schroeter (eds.), The Many Moral Rationalisms. Oxford University Press. pp. 187-209.
    This paper takes up an important epistemological challenge to the naturalistic moral realist: that her metaphysical commitments are difficult to square with a plausible rationalist view about the epistemology of morality. The paper begins by clarifying and generalizing this challenge. It then illustrates how the generalized challenge can be answered by a form of naturalistic moral realism that I dub joint-carving moral realism. Both my framing of this challenge and my answer advertise the methodological significance of non-fundamental epistemological theorizing, which (...)
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  16. Towards an Ecumenical Theory of Normative Reasons.Caj Sixten Strandberg - 2018 - Dialectica 72 (1):69-100.
    A theory of normative reasons for action faces the fundamental challenge of accounting for the dual nature of reasons. On the one hand, some reasons appear to depend on, and vary with, desires. On the other hand, some reasons appear categorical in the sense of being desire‐independent. However, it has turned out to be difficult to provide a theory that accommodates both these aspects. Internalism is able to account for the former aspect, but has difficulties to account for the latter, (...)
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  17. Why Conceptual Competence Won’T Help the Non-Naturalist Epistemologist.Preston J. Werner - 2018 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 48 (3-4):616-637.
    Non-naturalist normative realists face an epistemological objection: They must explain how their preferred route of justification ensures a non-accidental connection between justified moral beliefs and the normative truths. One strategy for meeting this challenge begins by pointing out that we are semantically or conceptually competent in our use of the normative terms, and then argues that this competence guarantees the non-accidental truth of some of our first-order normative beliefs. In this paper, I argue against this strategy by illustrating that this (...)
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  18. Kant in Metaethics: The Paradox of Moral Autonomy, Solved by Publicity.Carla Bagnoli - 2017 - In M. Altman (ed.), Kant Handbook. Palgrave. pp. 355-377.
    This chapter aims to situate Kant’s account of practical reason in metaethical debates. First, it explains the reasons why it is legitimate and instructive to discuss Kant’s relevance in contemporary metaethics, hence addressing some issues about the intended scope of metaethics and its relation to practical reason and psychology. Second, it defends an interpretation of Kant’s conception of autonomy, which avoids some paradoxes traditionally associated with self-legislation. Third, it shows that constructivism best captures Kant’s conception of practical reason and of (...)
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  19. Moral Fixed Points and Conceptual Deficiency: Reply to Ingram (2015).Kyriacou Christos - 2017 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 2017 (3):1-9.
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  20. “Yes, the Theory is Abstemious, But...”: A Critique of Yehezkel.Regan Lance Reitsma - 2017 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 13 (1):59-79.
    This article is a critique of Gal Yehezkel’s attempt to refute subjectivism about normative practical reasons, a school of thought inspired by Hume. Yehezkel believes reason, far from being, as Hume puts it, “the slave of the passions,” has the normative authority to be a critic of basic desires and argues that subjectivism lacks the theoretical resources both to acknowledge this alleged truth and to analyze the distinction between wanting an outcome and intending to pursue it. I contend his refutation (...)
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  21. Epistemic Perceptualism and Neo-Sentimentalist Objections.Robert Cowan - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (1):59-81.
    Epistemic Perceptualists claim that emotions are sources of immediate defeasible justification for evaluative propositions that can sometimes ground undefeated immediately justified evaluative beliefs. For example, fear can constitute the justificatory ground for a belief that some object or event is dangerous. Despite its attractiveness, the view is apparently vulnerable to several objections. In this paper, I provide a limited defence of Epistemic Perceptualism by responding to a family of objections which all take as a premise a popular and attractive view (...)
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  22. Defective Equilibrium.Danny Frederick - 2016 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 23 (4):443-59.
    I argue that the conception of reflective equilibrium that is generally accepted in contemporary philosophy is defective and should be replaced with a conception of fruitful reflective disequilibrium which prohibits ad hoc manoeuvres, encourages new approaches, and eschews all justification in favour of continuous improvement. I suggest how the conception of fruitful disequilibrium can be applied more effectively to moral enquiry, to encourage genuine progress in moral knowledge, if we make moral theory empirically testable by adopting a meta-ethical postulate which (...)
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  23. Intuition, Self-Evidence, and Understanding.Stratton-Lake Philip - 2016 - In Russ Shafer Landau (ed.), Oxford Studes in Meta Ethics. Oxford: OUP. pp. 28-44.
    Here I criticise Audi's account of self-evidece. I deny that understanding of a proposition can justify belief in it and offfer an account of intuition that can take the place of understanding in an account of self-evidence.
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  24. A New Moral Sentimentalism.Eric Vogelstein - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (3):346-368.
    This paper argues for a novel sentimentalist realist metaethical theory, according to which moral wrongness is analyzed in terms of the sentiments one has most reason to have. As opposed to standard sentimentalist views, the theory does not employ sentiments that are had in response to morally wrong action, but rather sentiments that antecedently dispose people to refrain from immoral behavior, specifically the sentiments of compassion and respect.
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  25. Realism and Constructivism in Kantian Metaethics 1 : Realism and Constructivism in a Kantian Context.Karl Schafer - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (10):690-701.
    Metaethical constructivism is one of the main movements within contemporary metaethics – especially among those with Kantian inclinations. But both the philosophical coherence and the Kantian pedigree of constructivism are hotly contested. In the first half of this article, I first explore the sense in which Kant's own views might be described as constructivist and then use the resulting understanding as a guide to how we might think about Kantian constructivism today. Along the way, I hope to suggest that a (...)
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  26. Realism and Constructivism in Kantian Metaethics 2 : The Kantian Conception of Rationality and Rationalist Constructivism.Karl Schafer - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (10):702-713.
    In the second half of this essay, I discuss the robust conception of rationality that lies at the heart of the Kantian version of Rationalist Constructivism – offering some reasons to prefer this conception to the more minimal accounts of rationality associated with Humean views. I then go on to discuss some of the potential metaethical advantages of the resulting form of constructivism.
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  27. Deflationism, Rationalism, and Anti-Rationalism: Three Views of Superego Morality.Ching Wa Wong - 2015 - Open Journal of Philosophy 5 (6):374-383.
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  28. Moral Rationalism Without Overridingness.Alfred Archer - 2014 - Ratio 27 (1):100-114.
    Moral Rationalism is the view that if an act is morally required then it is what there is most reason to do. It is often assumed that the truth of Moral Rationalism is dependent on some version of The Overridingness Thesis, the view that moral reasons override nonmoral reasons. However, as Douglas Portmore has pointed out, the two can come apart; we can accept Moral Rationalism without accepting any version of The Overridingness Thesis. Nevertheless, The Overridingness Thesis serves as one (...)
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  29. Axiarchism and Selectors.John Russell Roberts - 2014 - Faith and Philosophy 31 (4):412-421.
    This essay offers a defense of Axiarchism's answer to the question, "Why does the world exit?" against prominent objections leveled against it by Derek Parfit. Parfit rejects the Axiarchist answer while abstracting from it his own Selector strategy. I argue that the abstraction fails, and that even if we were to regard Axiarchism as an instance of a Selector hypothesis, we should regard it as the only viable one. I also argue that Parfit's abstraction leads him to mistake the nature (...)
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  30. Rationalism in Ethics.Noell Birondo - 2013 - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley. pp. 4329-4338.
    The word 'rationalism,' as it appears in philosophical discussions of ethics and morality, signifies at least one of a cluster of theses, each of which connects some aspect of ethical experience to reason or rationality. The most provocative rationalist thesis arises in contemporary discussions in metaethics; and it is this thesis that remains the most likely referent, in contemporary discussions, of the phrase 'moral rationalism.' The thesis is more accurately referred to, however, as metaethical rationalism, since it concerns the provenance (...)
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  31. Reason in its Practical Application.E. Sonny Elizondo - 2013 - Philosophers' Imprint 13:1-17.
    Is practical reason a cognitive faculty? Do practical judgments make claims about a subject matter that are appropriately assessed in terms of their agreement with that subject matter? According to Kantians like Christine Korsgaard, the answer is no. To think otherwise is to conflate the theoretical and the practical, the epistemic and the ethical. I am not convinced. In this paper, I motivate my skepticism through examination of the very figure who inspires Korsgaard’s rejection of cognitivism: Kant. For as I (...)
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  32. Intuition Versus Reason: Strategies People Use to Think About Moral Problems.Mark Fedyk & Barbara Koslowski - 2013 - Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
    We asked college students to make judgments about realistic moral situations presented as dilemmas (which asked for an either/or decision) vs. problems (which did not ask for such a decision) as well as when the situation explicitly included affectively salient language vs. non-affectively salient language. We report two main findings. The first is that there are four different types of cognitive strategy that subjects use in their responses: simple reasoning, intuitive judging, cautious reasoning, and empathic reasoning. We give operational definitions (...)
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  33. Review of Kieran Setiya’s Knowing Right From Wrong.Charlie Kurth - 2013 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2013.
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  34. The Nature of Virtue.Dario Perinetti - 2013 - In James A. Harris (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century. Oxford University Press. pp. 333.
    This chapter examines the different answers that British moralists gave to the question ‘what does virtue consist in?’ Rather than as a royal road to present-day views in ethics, their answers are best understood when considered against the background of early modern natural law theories and their projected metaphysics of morals. The emerging ‘science of morality’ dealt with the metaphysical problem of determining what sort of thing virtue is. Considered from this vantage point, the British moralists struggled with the problem (...)
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  35. Wollaston, William.John J. Tilley - 2013 - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
    This is a brief reference article on William Wollaston's moral theory, including some influential objections to it.
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  36. Ethische Wirklichkeit. Objektivität und Vernünftigkeit der Ethik aus pragmatistischer Perspektive.Matthias Kiesselbach - 2012 - Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter.
    Das Buch "Ethische Wirklichkeit" liefert eine Verteidigung von zwei Grundannahmen des ethischen Diskurses, die schon immer philosophischen Zweifeln ausgesetzt waren: erstens der Annahme der Wahrheitsfähigkeit ethischer Urteile, zweitens der Annahme der Vernünftigkeit der Befolgung angemessener ethischer Forderungen. Hauptbezugspunkte der Arbeit sind dabei Ludwig Wittgenstein und Robert Brandom. Mit ihnen wird gezeigt, dass die Bedeutung propositional gehaltvoller Ausdrücke auf der fundamentalen Ebene in ihren internen Beziehungen mit weiteren Ausdrücken sowie mit nichtsprachlichen Verrichtungen besteht. Mit dieser Idee wird nicht nur der ethische (...)
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  37. Knowing Right From Wrong.Kieran Setiya - 2012 - Oxford University Press.
    Can we have objective knowledge of right and wrong, of how we should live and what there is reason to do? Can it be anything but luck when our moral beliefs are true? Kieran Setiya confronts these questions in their most compelling and articulate forms, and argues that if there is objective ethical knowledge, human nature is its source.
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  38. Exciting Reasons and Moral Rationalism in Hutcheson's Illustrations Upon the Moral Sense.John J. Tilley - 2012 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 50 (1):53-83.
    One of the most oft-cited parts of Francis Hutcheson’s Illustrations upon the Moral Sense (1728) is his discussion of “exciting reasons.” In this paper I address the question: What is the function of that discussion? In particular, what is its relation to Hutcheson’s attempt to show that the rationalists’ normative thesis ultimately implies, contrary to their moral epistemology, that moral ideas spring from a sense? Despite first appearances, Hutcheson’s discussion of exciting reasons is not part of that attempt. Mainly, it (...)
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  39. The Problem of Inconsistency in Wollaston's Moral Theory.John J. Tilley - 2012 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 29 (3):265–80.
    This paper challenges Francis Hutcheson's and John Clarke of Hull's alleged demonstrations that William Wollaston's moral theory is inconsistent. It also present a form of the inconsistency objection that fares better than theirs, namely, that of Thomas Bott (1688-1754). Ultimately, the paper shows that Wollaston's moral standard is not what some have thought it to be; that consequently, his philosophy withstands the best-known efforts to expose it as inconsistent; and further, that one of the least-known British moralists is more important (...)
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  40. Self-Evidence and A Priori Moral Knowledge.Elizabeth Tropman - 2012 - Disputatio 4 (33):459-467.
    According to rationalists about moral knowledge, some moral truths are knowable a priori. Rationalists often defend their position by claiming that some moral propositions are self-evidently true. Copp 2007 has recently challenged this rationalist strategy. Copp argues that even if some moral propositions are self-evident, this is not enough to secure rationalism about moral knowledge, since it turns out that such self-evident propositions are only knowable a posteriori. This paper considers the merits of Copp’s challenge. After clarifying the rationalists’ appeal (...)
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  41. Wittwer, Ist es vernünftig, moralisch zu handeln? [REVIEW]Fabian Wendt - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (4):279-280.
  42. Moral Perception and Knowledge by Principles.Carla Bagnoli - 2011 - In Jill Hernandez (ed.), The New Intuitionism. London: Continuum. pp. 84-105.
  43. The Moral Conversion of Rational Egoists.Michael Cholbi - 2011 - Social Theory and Practice 37 (4):533-556.
    One principal challenge to the rationalist thesis that the demands of morality are requirements of rationality has been that posed by the "rational egoist." In attempting to answer's the egoist's challenge, some rationalists have supposed that an adequate reply must take the form of a deductive argument that "converts" the egoist by showing that her position is contradictory, arbitrary, or violates some precept that defines practical rationality as such. Here I argue (a) that such rationalist replies will fail to persuade (...)
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  44. Ethics and the Nature of Action.Heine A. Holmen - 2011 - Dissertation, University of Oslo
    The following thesis starts from the question «why be moral?» and adresses an action-theoretic strategy for answering this question in the positive by reference to the constitutive natur of actions. In these debates, the epistemology of action has turned into a central issue. The thesis adresses these debates and develops a novel account of the epistemology: an account that may well turn out to provide a ground for the aforementioned constitutivist strategies.
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  45. Consequentialism and Moral Rationalism.Douglas W. Portmore - 2011 - In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics. Oxford University Press.
    IN THIS PAPER, I make a presumptive case for moral rationalism: the view that agents can be morally required to do only what they have decisive reason to do, all things considered. And I argue that this view leads us to reject all traditional versions of act‐consequentialism. I begin by explaining how moral rationalism leads us to reject utilitarianism.
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  46. Moral Rationalism and the Normative Status of Desiderative Coherence.Patricia Marino - 2010 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 7 (2):227-252.
    This paper concerns the normative status of coherence of desires, in the context of moral rationalism. I argue that 'desiderative coherence' is not tied to rationality, but is rather of pragmatic, instrumental, and sometimes moral value. This means that desire-based views cannot rely on coherence to support non-agent-relative accounts of moral reasons. For example, on Michael Smith's neo-rationalist view, you have 'normative reason' to do whatever your maximally coherent and fully informed self would want you to do, whether you want (...)
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  47. The Standards of Practical Reasoning. [REVIEW]Matthew Silverstein - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (240):631-638.
    A critical study of Kieran Setiya's *Reasons without Rationalism*.
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  48. Moral Rationalism and Rational Amoralism.Mark van Roojen - 2010 - Ethics 120 (3):495–525.
  49. Hypothetical Justifications.Bernd Lahno - 2009 - RMM:67-82.
    A basic conviction in moral non-cognitivism is: only hypothetical norms may be justified. Hartmut Kliemt argues for a moderate variant: there are only hypothetical justifications of norms whether the norms are hypothetical or categorical in kind. In this paper the con- cept of ‘hypothetical justification’ is analyzed. It is argued that hypothetical justifications are not of the kind that we should look for in normative ethics.
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  50. Discourse Ethics and Moral Rationalism.Brian K. Powell - 2009 - Dialogue 48 (2):373.
    ABSTRACT: In this paper, I raise the following question: can the ethical thought of Jurgen Habermas and Karl-Otto Apel provide us with a way of showing that morality is a rational requirement? The answer I give is that it cannot. I argue for this claim by showing that a decisive objection to Alan Gewirth’s line of thought in Reason and Morality also applies to discourse ethical arguments that try to show an inescapable commitment to a moral principle. RÉSUMÉ: La pensée (...)
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