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The Argument from Moral Experience

Don Loeb
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
Vol. 10, No. 5, Moral Skepticism: 30 Years of Inventing Right and Wrong (November 2007), pp. 469-484
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40602543
Page Count: 16
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The Argument from Moral Experience
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Abstract

It is often said that our moral experience, broadly construed to include our ways of thinking and talking about morality, has a certain objective-seeming character to it, and that this supports a presumption in favor of objectivist theories (according to which morality is a realm of facts or truths) and against anti-objectivist theories like Mackie's error theory (according to which it is not). In this paper, I argue that our experience of morality does not support objectivist moral theories in this way. I begin by arguing that our moral experience does not have the uniformly objective-seeming character it is typically claimed to have. I go on to argue that even if moral experience were to presuppose or display morality as a realm of fact, we would still need a reason for taking that to support theories according to which it is such a realm. I consider what I take to be the four most promising ways of attempting to supply such a reason: (A) inference to the best explanation, (B) epistemic conservatism, (C) the Principle of Credulity, and (D) the method of wide reflective equilibrium. In each case, I argue, the strategy in question does not support a presumption in favor of objectivist moral theories.

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