Ethics and Intuitions: A Reply to Singer

The Journal of Ethics 15 (3):209-226 (2011)
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In a recent paper, Peter Singer suggests that some interesting new findings in experimental moral psychology support what he has contended all along—namely that intuitions should play little or no role in adequate justifications of normative ethical positions. Not only this but, according to Singer, these findings point to a central flaw in the method (or epistemological theory) of reflective equilibrium used by many contemporary moral philosophers. In this paper, we try to defend reflective equilibrium from Singer’s attack and, in part, we do this by discussing Singer’s own favoured moral methodology as outlined in his Practical Ethics . Although basing ethics solely on (certain kinds of) intuitions certainly is problematic, we argue, basing it solely on ‘reason’ gives rise to similar problems. The best solution would arguably be one which could strike a balance between the two—but, we suggest, this is precisely what reflective equilibrium is all about



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Joakim Sandberg
University of Gothenburg

References found in this work

Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Thomas E. Hill & Arnulf Zweig.
Practical Ethics.Peter Singer - 1979 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Susan J. Armstrong & Richard George Botzler.

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