Rossian Deontology and the Possibility of Moral Expertise

In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, 4. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 159-178 (2015)

Authors
Eric Wiland
University of Missouri, St. Louis
Abstract
It seems that we can know moral truths. We are also rather reluctant to defer to moral testimony. But it’s not obvious how moral cognitivism is compatible with pessimism about moral testimony. If moral truths are knowable, shouldn’t it be possible for others to know moral truths you don’t know, so that it is wise for you to defer to what they say? Or, alternatively, if it’s always reasonable to refuse to defer to the wisest among us, doesn’t this show that morality is not genuinely cognitive? There is a tension in our commonsense moral epistemology. In this chapter I (a) explicate this tension, (b) criticize how others have attempted to resolve it, and finally (c) explain how Rossian deontology helps us see that the tension is only apparent: morality is indeed knowable, despite the fact that it is usually wise to refuse to defer to moral testimony.
Keywords moral testimony  Ross  deontology  moral knowledge
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