Worldviews, moral seemings, and moral epistemology

C. Stephen Evans

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This article argues that the debate about moral knowledge is influenced by worldview-type background beliefs. Metaphysical naturalism supports a skeptical view of moral knowledge consistent with noncognitivism. The author argues a reasonable case for moral knowledge can be made, based on a weak form of intuitionism that is empiricist in character. On this account, moral knowledge has its beginnings in "moral seemings," perceptual experiences of moral properties providing varying degrees of epistemic support for moral judgments about particular actions and states of affairs. This account is consistent with accounts of moral knowledge offered by contemporary psychologists. Evolutionary debunking arguments appear to threaten such a view, but they gain much of their apparent force from the background metaphysical assumptions. In conclusion, the author suggests, in the spirit of Kant, that a commitment to moral knowledge may be rooted in a reasonable "moral faith," which holds that we are morally obligated to believe in the reality of moral obligations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)815-836
JournalThe Review of Metaphysics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2020


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