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Moral Perception without (Prior) Moral Knowledge

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Proponents of impure moral perception claim that, while there are perceptual moral experiences, these experiences epistemically depend on a priori moral knowledge. Proponents of pure moral perception claim that moral experiences can justify independently of substantive a priori moral knowledge. Some philosophers, most notably David Faraci (2015), have argued that the pure view is mistaken, since moral perception requires previous moral background knowledge, and such knowledge could not itself be perceptual. I defend pure moral perception against this objection. I consider two ways to understand the notion of “background knowledge” that is crucial to the objection. On a (stronger) reading, the claim that background knowledge is necessary for moral perception is likely false. On a second and weaker reading, the claim is true, but the background knowledge in question could be perceptual, and thus compatible with pure moral perception. Thus, the objection fails.

Affiliations: 1: Hebrew University of Jerusalem,


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