A Posteriori Ethical Intuitionism and the Problem of Cognitive Penetrability

European Journal of Philosophy 25 (4):1791-1809 (2017)
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According to a posteriori ethical intuitionism, perceptual experiences can provide non-inferential justification for at least some moral beliefs. Moral epistemology, for the defender of AEI, is less like the epistemology of math and more like the epistemology of tables and chairs. One serious threat to AEI comes from the phenomenon of cognitive penetration. The worry is that even if evaluative properties could figure in the contents of experience, they would only be able to do so if prior cognitive states influence perceptual experience. Such influences would undermine the non-inferential, foundationalist credentials of AEI. In this paper, I defend AEI against this objection. Rather than deny that cognitive penetration exists, I argue that some types of cognitive penetrability are actually compatible with AEI's foundationalist structure. This involves teasing apart the question of whether some particular perceptual process has justification-conferring features from the question of how it came to have those features in the first place. Once this distinction is made, it becomes clear that some kinds of cognitive penetration are compatible with the non-inferential status of moral perceptual experiences as the proponent of AEI claims.



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Preston Werner
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Citations of this work

Moral perception.Preston J. Werner - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (1).
Moral Perception without (Prior) Moral Knowledge.Preston J. Werner - 2018 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 15 (2):164-181.
Which Moral Properties Are Eligible for Perceptual Awareness?Preston J. Werner - 2020 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 17 (3):290-319.
No need to get up from the armchair.Dan Baras - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (3):575-590.

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References found in this work

The Modularity of Mind.Robert Cummins & Jerry Fodor - 1983 - Philosophical Review 94 (1):101.
Upheavals of Thought.Martha Nussbaum - 2001 - Journal of Religious Ethics 31 (2):325-341.
Moral Perception.Robert Audi - 2013 - Princeton University Press.

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