Journal of Value Inquiry 44 (1):31-45 (2010)

Elizabeth Tropman
Colorado State University
Sensibility theorists such as John McDowell have argued that once we appreciate certain similarities between moral values and secondary qualities, a new meta-ethical position might emerge, one that avoids the alleged difficulties with moral intuitionism and non-cognitivism. The aim of this paper is to examine the meta-ethical prospects of this secondary-quality analogy. Of particular concern will be the extent to which McDowell’s comparison of values to secondary qualities supports a viewpoint unique from that of the moral intuitionist. Once we disentangle the various metaphysical and epistemological strands of McDowell’s analogy, McDowell’s position might appear closer to moral intuitionism than initially supposed. This discussion will also help clarify the intended meaning of the secondary-quality analogy, as well as its significance for ethics more generally.
Keywords intuitionism  John McDowell  sensibility theory  secondary qualities
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DOI 10.1007/s10790-009-9173-9
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