Intuitions are never used as evidence in ethics

Herok, Tomasz (2023) Intuitions are never used as evidence in ethics. Synthese, 201 (2). ISSN 0039-7857

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One can often hear that intuitions are standardly “appealed to”, “relied on”, “accounted for”, or “used as evidence” in ethics. How should we interpret these claims? I argue that the typical understanding is what Bernard Molyneux calls “descriptive evidentialism”: the idea that intuition-states are treated as evidence of their propositional contents in the context of justification. I then argue that descriptive evidentialism is false–on any account of what intuitions are. That said, I admit that ethicists frequently rely on intuitions to clarify, persuade, discover, or to support things other than the intuitions’ contents. The contents of intuitions are also commonly used as starting premises of philosophical arguments. However claims about these practices need to be sharply distinguished from the prevalent dogma.

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02 Feb 2023 15:20
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02 Feb 2023 15:50