Explaining Moral Knowledge

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Abstract

In this paper I assess the viability of a particularist explanation of moral knowledge. First, I consider two arguments by Sean McKeever and Michael Ridge that purport to show that a generalist, principle-based explanation of practical wisdom-understood as the ability to acquire moral knowledge in a wide range of situations-is superior to a particularist, non-principle-based account. I contend that both arguments are unsuccessful. Then, I propose a particularist-friendly explanation of knowledge of particular moral facts. I argue that when we are careful to keep separate the various explanatory tasks at hand we can see that a particularist-friendly explanation of the fact that (e.g.,) Jane knows that A is morally right might not be so difficult to come by. Moreover, I suggest that a particularist approach to explaining knowledge of particular moral facts may go some way towards discharging the challenge of moral scepticism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-56
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Moral Philosophy
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 24 Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • generalism
  • moral epistemology
  • moral knowledge
  • particularism
  • principles

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