Sinnott-Armstrong's Moral Skepticism: A Murdochian Response

Dialogue 48 (3):673-678 (2009)
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong has recently criticized moral intuitionism by bringing to light some compelling empirical evidence indicating that we are unreliable at forming moral judgments non-inferentially. The evidence shows that our non-inferentially arrived-at moral convictions are subject to framing effects; that is, they vary depending on how the situation judged is described. Thomas Nadelhoffer and Adam Feltz, following in Sinnott-Armstrong's footsteps, have appealed to research indicating that such judgments are also subject to actor-observer bias; that is, they vary depending on whether the situation judged includes the judger as an actor in, or an observer of, the situation. The accuracy of this empirical evidence will not be challenged in what follows. What will be called into question is its purported relevance for moral intuitionism. To that end we will consider a version of moral intuitionism developed by Iris Murdoch that not only accommodates but essentially relies on the existence of various kinds of distorting factors including framing effects and actor-observer bias
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DOI 10.1017/S0012217309990199
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Mark van Roojen (forthcoming). Moral Intuitionism, Experiments and Skeptical Arguments. In Anthony Booth & Darrell Rowbottom (eds.), Intuitions. Oxford University Press.
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (1999). Explanation and Justification in Moral Epistemology. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 1:117-127.
Bart Streumer (2003). Does 'Ought' Conversationally Implicate 'Can'? European Journal of Philosophy 11 (2):219–228.

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