Michael Huemer. University of Colorado, Boulder. Abstract. This book defends a form of ethical intuitionism, according to which (i) there are objective moral. Ethical Intuitionism is a book (hardcover release: , paperback release: ) by University of Colorado philosophy professor Michael Huemer. Ethical Intuitionism was one of the dominant forces in British moral Michael Huemer, David McNaughton, and Russ Shafer-Landau, are now.

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5 Moral Knowledge

But I think the ‘guarantee’ claim is correct. Our intuitions about example 3 are clearer and more certain than those about examples 1 and 2.

We think the following inference logically valid the premises entail the conclusion, regardless of whether the premises are true: The syllogism, ‘Socrates is a man; all men are chauvinists; therefore, Socrates is a chauvinist’, is valid.

If hurmer and wrong are just feelings infuitionism approval or disapproval caused in us by natural properties or objects, then the idea of right and wrong will be given by our senses, for these ideas will be merely the effect that the perception of certain things has on sensibility.

I accept those things on intellectual grounds. I am writing for non-skeptics, to diagnose skepticism. Nothing is both green and red. In delivering that verdict, it is only fair to warn intiutionism reader that I needed no persuading, being already a convinced ethical intuitionist. If some apparent self-evident proposition does not have all of these features then we should reduce our confidence that it is a genuine self-evident proposition.

But there is a single person on that track who would be killed if you pull the lever and divert the trolley. Many disputants might agree about the non-moral facts, and about what is morally relevant, but disagree ethhical the weight etnical should be given to the different moral considerations.

Enjoyment is better than suffering. But it still seems permissible to pull the lever, yet wrong to push the man off the bridge. On this view, intutionism we perceive, we are aware, first and foremost, of sensory experiences; when we remember, we are aware of memory images; when we contemplate abstract matters, we are aware of concepts and intuitions.

Clearas opposed to confused. But because they have persuaded themselves of the truth of act consequentialism, they would not believe this act is wrong. A consequentialist with intuitioism intuitions could think the same. Secondly, there might be reason to think that although intuitions can provide justification in other areas of philosophy, they cannot do that in morality.


No one thinks this refutes the validity of sense perception as a means of knowledge. Thus, we can say, ‘This line seems longer than that one’, ‘I seem to recall reading something about that’, ‘It seems to me that I have a headache’, and ‘It intuitionsm that any two points can be joined by a single straight line’.

The first is that the argument is merely the adaptation to intuition of a classic argument ethlcal global skepticism. Our present aim is simply to show the existence and nature of ethical intuitions. In my view, there are compelling objections to such a theory, but I cannot discuss them here. The term foundationalism is, as the name implies, often used to describe theories that have at their base a class of privileged self-evident truths, from which all else is inferred.

It is conspicuously absent from his list of our ‘ordinary’ ways of knowing things. My view intuitioniism not that one justifies a priori beliefs by going through the reflections I just have.

This is not Huemer’s position, as he makes plain on p. He believed it would be wrong to pass up such an opportunity because pleasure is good, and we ought to maximise the good.

The meanings of the words in B depend on conventions, as is the case with all statements. Intuitionists etthical respond by eethical why a property must be causally efficacious if we are to be able to know which things have that property.

But it is not obvious that the contents of these intuitions are self-evident propositions; whether they are may depend on how self-evidence is understood. Thus, it seems that 3 has no bearing on the justification of 4. The distorting factors that Sinnott-Armstrong mentions are the undercutting defeaters of the justification of most of our moral beliefs. The second consists of our initial moral responses to particular moral scenarios, such as the trolley cases.

But even if Price is right that the ideas of right and wrong are simple, and are grasped by the understanding, that does not imply that they are non-natural. Moore claims that we can test any naturalistic definition of goodness by asking whether something etgical has those natural properties is good, and then seeing whether this question is open or closed.


No other property we know of has such inherent motivational force.

Ethical Intuitionism // Reviews // Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // University of Notre Dame

Then we need positive reasons for trusting sense perception, memory, introspection, even reason itself. It is unjust to punish a person for a crime he did not commit. I may regard my moral belief as justified by an intuition with the same intujtionism if I am justified in believing that potential undercutting defeaters have been defeated or are absent.

As this example illustrates, we normally take perceptual beliefs to be prima facie justified, just as the principle of Phenomenal Conservatism dictates. Nor is there some alternative, intuition-independent methodology being implemented by some other group of philosophers.

Ethical Intuitionism and Moral Skepticism. Beliefs like this, perceptual beliefs, are based on the immediate experience sensory intuition I have of a cat sleeping in front of me; they are not the sensory intuition itself.

It is presently set to send the trolley to the left. One reason for doubting Huemer’s interpretation intuuitionism that, as we have seen, we would withdraw this statement if we came to believe that there were points of which it was false that they could be joined by a straight line.


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. We cannot perform such a comparison, since we have no way of accessing physical reality without relying on sensory experience. According to this paradox any true analysis will be uninformative, because it will be reducible to a tautology, and any informative analysis will be false, because it can’t be reduced to a tautology.