Margaret Watkins
Saint Vincent College
I develop resources from Hume to account for moral knowledge in the qualified sense developed by Bernard Williams, according to which the proper application of thick ethical terms constitutes moral knowledge. By applying to moral discernment the criteria of the good aesthetic critic, as explained in Hume's “ Of the Standard of Taste ”, we can see how Humean moral knowledge might be possible. For each of these criteria, an analogous trait would contribute to moral discernment. These traits would enable moral judges to distinguish valid from invalid uses of thick moral terms. The deliverances of such judgments constitute mitigated moral knowledge, as opposed to knowledge in the stricter sense that Hume clearly says cannot be had of moral distinctions. This account has the potential to explain how moral judgments may be valid or invalid without appealing to unique operations of the understanding and how moral knowledge might escape the threat, identified by Williams, of reflective destruction.
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DOI 10.1080/00201740802536639
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Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1985 - Harvard University Press.
Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1987 - Behaviorism 15 (2):179-181.

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