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Open Access Explaining Moral Knowledge

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Explaining Moral Knowledge

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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.

Affiliations: 1: University of Nottingham, uri.leibowitz@nottingham.ac.uk

10.1163/17455243-4681012
/content/journals/10.1163/17455243-4681012
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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.

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1. Bales R.E. , ( 1971) ‘ "Act-Utilitarianism: Account of Right-making Characteristics or Decision-Making Procedure?"’, American Philosophical Quarterly Vol 8: 257265.
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10. Leibowitz U.D. ( 2012) ‘ "Particularism in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics"’, The Journal of Moral Philosophy .
11. ——( 2011) ‘ "Scientific Explanation and Moral Explanation"’, Noûs Vol 45( 3): 472503.
12. ——( 2009b) ‘ "Moral Advice and Moral Theory"’, Philosophical Studies , Vol 146( 3): 349359.
13. ——( 2009a) ‘ "A Defense of a Particularist Research Program"’, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice , Volume Vol 12, Issue 2.
14. McKeever S. ,, and Ridge M. , ( 2006) Principled Ethics: Generalism as a Regulative Ideal ( Oxford: Clarendon Press).
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2014-01-01
2016-12-10

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