Ethical Intuitionism is a book (hardcover release: , paperback release: ) by University of Colorado philosophy professor Michael Huemer. Michael Huemer. University of Colorado, Boulder. Abstract. This book defends a form of ethical intuitionism, according to which (i) there are objective moral. In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in Ethical Intuitionism, ( ), Bedke (), Huemer (), Shafer-Landau (), Stratton-lake.

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Along with its moral epistemology, a distinctive feature of intuitionist thought is its non-naturalist realism. But it is making a return, and currently has more proponents than he sometimes seems to suggest. Relatedly, most people have difficulty explaining why they feel inclined to answer one way in example 1, and the opposite way in example 2; both cases introduce the possibility of sacrificing one person to save five.

But given that the default justification provided by so many of them is undermined by distorting factors, we need to check that some moral intuition is not one of the undermined ones before we can take it to provide justification. Huemer is understandably frustrated that so many people still misrepresent intuitionism and fail to take it seriously. So the discussion of intuitionism will focus on just these two features.

It is here that some are tempted to appeal to scientific knowledge about the underlying nature of colors to construct definitions saying, for example, ‘red is the disposition to reflect such-and-such wavelengths of light’.

Michael Huemer, Ethical Intuitionism – PhilPapers

Appearances can be intellectual, as opposed to sensory, ethidal, or introspective. To be sure that a proposition is self-evident it must:. Since all judgment and reasoning presupposes Phenomenal Conservatism, a rejection of Phenomenal Conservatism amounts to a general philosophical skepticism.

Other Internet Resources [Please contact the author with suggestions. There does not seem anything especially phenomenal about this experience; there is no way that true correct mathematical judgments look. Nor is there some alternative, intuition-independent methodology being implemented by some other group of philosophers. For instance if science told us that a lobster’s neurological system is sufficiently advanced for it to feel pain, we’d revise our view about the permissibility of boiling them alive.


He may check on this by a seeing whether his intuition coheres with the intuitions of others, and b seeing whether his intuition about abortion coheres with intuitionis intuition about, say, Thomson’s violinist case. But in doing this it loses the appeal of the direct realist account Price seems to work with of certain propositions or facts being immediately present to the mind.

How to cite this entry. We couldof course, change the use of the word ‘valid’ by convention.

Of course, attempting to give arguments for these things would simply lead me to ask how uuemer know the premises of those arguments.

If coming to see that something is good is coming to see that we have reason to have a pro-attitude towards it, then it would be no surprise if rational individuals come to have a pro-attitude towards perceived goods, any more than it would be surprising if rational beings come to do what they judge they ought to do.

Intuitionism in Ethics

When subjects have considered Bridge first, they are more likely to say that it would be wrong to pull the lever in Switch. Huemer devotes one chapter each to disposing of non-cognitivism, subjectivism, and reductivist views, including Naturalist moral realism in the Cornell style. It is not the case that a nuclear war would be bad.

But if we take an intuition to be an intellectual seeming, then intuitions cannot be justified any more than a perceptual seeming can. It is possible for something to be intrinsically huemre. All men are inconsiderate. It initially seems that the top line is longer than the bottom line. Some recent intuitionists have shied away from the view that certain moral propositions are self-evident and have, instead, argued that all the intuitionist needs is the claim that intuitions, understood as intellectual seemings, provide non-inferential justification for some of our moral beliefs Huemerand Bedke —though Bedke rejects intuitionism.

In each case, the appearance is intellectual; you do not perceive that these things are the case with your eyes, ears, etc. Moore’s argument can be captured ethidal follows:.

These properties are, they maintained, simple, non-natural properties. A self-evident proposition is one of which a clear intuition is sufficient justification for believing it, huemeg for believing it on the basis of intuiitionism intuition.


There is still moral disagreement here, but it is simply a difference in judgement about the application of agreed moral principles. In contrast, the more natural, ‘direct realist’ view is that the primary function of sensory experience is to partly constitute our awareness of external things, rather than to be an intermediary object of awareness. This is not to deny that intuition has a role in one’s coming to the conclusion that the U. All I can do by way of ‘showing something to be true’ ethival an article or book is to write down a series of sentences.

On this account, then, natural facts can be known by purely empirical means, whereas non-natural moral facts cannot be known in this way. Of course, not every intuition is essential to understanding the relevant concepts, but a person who has any grasp of a universal will necessarily have at least some correct intuitions about it. Therefore, Socrates is a platypus. In any case there is nothing in the notion of huemef self-evident proposition that rules out justification or argument for that proposition.

But that starting point is neither natural nor supported by any good arguments.

5 Moral Knowledge

Yet that is just what Huemer does, claiming that we can extend the phenomenal sense to the intellectual realm, so that ‘seems’ is being used in its phenomenal sense in such statements. We know what we mean by certain concepts by a priori reflection, but the nature of the things to which these concepts refer can only be discovered by empirical investigation. To begin with, I propose that having a clear, consistent, and determinate concept is sufficient for one’s grasping a universal or universals.

It is worth noting that moral disagreement does not imply that people have different intuitions. If it is legitimate, as surely it is, to check a perceptual belief in this way, then why should this not be an equally valid check on an intuitive belief?