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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Furthermore, suppose it turned out that all or most of your observations of colored objects have been hallucinatory perhaps, like Neo, you learn that you are living in the Matrix.


Subjectivists “think that for an object to be good is for some person or group to have or be disposed to have some psychological attitude or reaction towards it” p. This has the satisfying result that Intuitionism alone is right about the most important issue, and everyone else is wrong.

In fact, intuitionists hold at most that some moral truths are self-evident, 14 and my own form of intuitionism holds only that some moral beliefs are rendered prima facie justified by intuitions. But the intuitionists seem to object to naturalistic accounts of moral properties in precisely this way.

Whether this account helps intuitionists will depend on a more general metaphilosophical debate about the role of intuitions in philosophy, and whether intuitions justify.

But he would nuemer the trolley and so the five people on the track would be saved. Unless we are allowed to take something for granted, nothing can count as verifying anything.

Subtler inconsistencies exist, such as that perhaps intultionism in the concept of the largest prime number. I believe I have mental states–beliefs, desires, feelings, and so on–because I seem to have introspective awareness of them. Right now I just want to use this argument to illustrate a general epistemological point. Therefore, good and bad do not exist.

The same is true of the concept of water. Argumentation, or deduction, is knowledge that is ultimately derived from what is immediately apprehended, either by sensation or by the understanding.

Critics of intuitionism may, however, object that in so far as Ross’s theory does intuitiknism tell us what we ought to do, it ethcal not give us what we want from a moral theory. Even if the presentation should be false as in a hallucinationwe would still not be aware of a mental state; we would then merely fail to be aware of anything real, though it seemed as though we were.


We cannot know in advance that every naturalistic definition will fail this test.

Michael Huemer, Ethical Intuitionism – PhilPapers

If there were certain moral propositions that can be known if adequately understood, then, it is argued, people with an adequate understanding of them would believe them, and there would be universal assent amongst mature, comprehending people. One suspects that his reference to the ‘queerness’ of moral knowledge lacks cognitive meaning, serving rather to express his own aversion to such things than to describe any objective feature of it.

The idea is, then, that natural properties, such as the pleasantness or squareness of an object, can exist independently of that object, whereas the goodness of a good thing cannot exist independently of that thing.

But the mystery may be normative rather motivational if intjitionism assume, following Kant, that moral reasons are categorical reasons. This is not to say that our moral views are not revisable in the etbical of empirical findings.

An adequate grasp of a universal is a concept that is:.

Moral Knowledge

An initial, intellectual appearance is an ‘intuition’. But that is irrelevant; we could similarly change the use of the word ‘teeth’ ethocal convention, but no one takes this to show that the fact that sharks have teeth is in any relevant sense conventional.

Science Logic and Mathematics. The moral properties intuitioniam intuitionists tended to focus on were the thin moral properties of goodness and rightness. 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.

A particular event might become or cease to be good by, for example, becoming or ceasing to be pleasurable; but the abstract fact that enjoyment is good cannot cease ehical obtain. Shaver also points out that it is a mistake to assume that synthetic intuitioniwm can only be established by empirical means. Huemer devotes one chapter each to disposing of non-cognitivism, subjectivism, and reductivist views, including Naturalist moral realism in the Cornell style.

Oxford University Press, Moore’s argument can be captured as follows:. He does qualify this in a note, saying that his view more closely resembles Haack’s ‘foundherentism’.

Second, it is doubtful that all of our non-moral knowledge can be checked in the sense required by the objection. The only difference between ethical intuitions and non-ethical intuitions is in what they are about–and that cannot be taken as grounds for the queerness Mackie sees, unless we are to reject ethical knowledge merely for being ethical.


Why does Huemer not go for the simpler solution? ethucal

Intuitionism in Ethics

Now, just as someone who hjemer 1 and 2 might be moved by the above reasoning to accept 4 and 5a realist might argue against ethiacl and 2 as follows:.

Although their view is about the nature of moral properties, they often put their point in terms of moral concepts or ideas, and maintained that these concepts are either unanalysable, or if analysable, not analysable wholly in terms of natural concepts. Intuition is also involved in the weighing of competing intuitiknism instance, we may have intuitions about whether it is right to kill many people in order to depose a tyrant, if the facts of the case are as we inttuitionism them to hyemer.

The intuitionist conception of goodness may be regarded as mysterious because it is alleged to be unanalysable or indefinable. I cannot do justice to this subject here; nevertheless, I will briefly report how things seem to me. But moral facts have no effect on me; therefore, I do not know any moral facts. Cambridge University Press, pp. This gives the belief that you should flip the switch in example 3 a higher level of justification than the corresponding beliefs about examples 1 and 2.

Naturalism and Intuitionism; the second has three: If we grant the skeptic’s starting point, I think the rest of his reasoning is cogent.

Suppose I seem to see a glass of water on the table. I call this principle ‘Phenomenal Conservatism’ ‘phenomenal’ meaning ‘pertaining to appearances’. Secondly, there might be reason to think that although intuitions can provide justification huemr other areas of philosophy, they cannot do that in morality. However, much of the contemporary discussion in the literature is complex and technical.

But it has no bearing on the reality of intuition or its validity as a source of knowledge. Our present aim is simply to show the existence and nature of ethical intuitions.