Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger: Epistemic Standards and Moral Beliefs

Logos and Episteme 11 (1):29-51 (2020)
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Abstract

Much work in moral epistemology is devoted to explaining apparent asymmetries between moral and non-moral epistemology. These asymmetries include testimony, expertise, and disagreement. Surprisingly, these asymmetries have been addressed in isolation from each other, and the explanations offered have been piecemeal, rather than holistic. In this paper, I provide the only unified account on offer of these asymmetries. According to this unified account, moral beliefs typically have a higher epistemic standard than non-moral beliefs. This means, roughly, that it is typically more difficult for agents to receive the relevant positive epistemic credit for moral beliefs than for non-moral beliefs. After presenting this account, I consider two alternative unified accounts. According to the first alternative, moral matters are more cognitively demanding; according to the second, moral beliefs have more defeaters. I argue that neither of these alternative accounts succeed, and that my higher standards account is the best unified explanation.

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Nicole Dular
Franklin College, Indiana

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