Philosophia 37 (4):669-679 (2009)

Nigel Pleasants
University of Exeter
In On Certainty, Wittgenstein’s reflections bring into view the phenomenon of basic certainty. He explores this phenomenon mostly in relation to our certainty with regard to empirical states of affairs. Drawing on these seminal observations and reflections, I extend the inquiry into what I call “basic moral certainty”, arguing that the latter plays the same kind of foundational role in our moral practices and judgements as basic empirical certainty does in our epistemic practices and judgements. I illustrate the nature and significance of basic moral certainty via critical examination of contemporary philosophical “explanations” of the wrongness of killing. These pseudo explanations, as I show them to be, will be seen to founder in a similar manner to Moore’s “Proof” of an external world, that is, in a manner that discloses the phenomenon of basic (moral) certainty.
Keywords Wittgenstein  Basic certainty  Badness of death  Wrongness of killing
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-009-9198-0
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References found in this work BETA

Principia Ethica.George Edward Moore - 1903 - Dover Publications.
Why Abortion is Immoral.Don Marquis - 1989 - Journal of Philosophy 86 (4):183-202.
Proof of an External World.George Edward Moore - 1939 - Proceedings of the British Academy 25 (5):273--300.

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Citations of this work BETA

In Defence of Good Simpliciter.Richard Rowland - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (5):1371-1391.
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Local Evolutionary Debunking Arguments.Richard Rowland - 2019 - Philosophical Perspectives 33 (1):170-199.
The Concept of Testimony.Nicola Mößner - 2011 - In Christoph Jäger & Winfried Löffler (eds.), Epistemology: Contexts, Values, Disagreement, Papers of the 34. International Wittgenstein Symposium. Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society. pp. 207-209.

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Klein on Relative Certainty.Rod Bertolet - 1987 - Philosophy Research Archives 13:271-274.
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