The justificatory power of moral experience

Journal of Medical Ethics 35 (4):234-237 (2009)
  Copy   BIBTEX


A recurrent issue in the vast amount of literature on reasoning models in ethics is the role and nature of moral intuitions. In this paper, we start from the view that people who work and live in a certain moral practice usually possess specific moral wisdom. If we manage to incorporate their moral intuitions in ethical reasoning, we can arrive at judgements and (modest) theories that grasp a moral experience that generally cannot be found outside the practice. Reflective equilibrium (RE) provides a framework for balancing moral intuitions, ethical principles and general theories. Nevertheless, persisting problems associated with the use of intuitions need to be addressed. One is the objection that moral intuitions lack the credibility necessary to guide moral reasoning. Ethicists have tried to solve this problem by formulating criteria to separate the “bad” intuitions from the “good” ones at the beginning of the reasoning process. We call this the credible input-justified outcome strategy. An example is the appeal to the common morality by Beauchamp and Childress. We think this approach is unsuccessful. As an alternative, we outline the good reasoning-justified outcome strategy. It connects to a variant of RE in which intuitions from different sources are incorporated. We argue that the elements of RE have different levels of justificatory power at the start of reasoning. In our strategy, each element can gain or lose justificatory power when it is tested in a reasoning process that meets several criteria



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,261

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

On two critics of justificatory liberalism: A response to wall and Lister.Gerald Gaus - 2010 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 9 (2):177-212.
Pragmatist Metaethics: Moral Theory as a Deliberative Practice.Todd Lekan - 2006 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (2):253-271.
The axiology of moral experience.Robert Audi - 1998 - The Journal of Ethics 2 (4):355-375.
Power and moral responsibility.Thomas Pink - 2009 - Philosophical Explorations 12 (2):127 – 149.
Normativity and reason.Thomas Pink - 2007 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 4 (3):406-431.
Fairness, Political Obligation, and the Justificatory Gap.Jiafeng Zhu - 2014 - Journal of Moral Philosophy (4):1-23.
General principles of human power.A. van Ginkel - 1999 - Westport, Conn.: Praeger.
Religion, respect and Eberle’s agapic pacifist.Robert B. Talisse - 2012 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 38 (3):313-325.
Moral Philosophy as a Hermeneutics of Moral Experience.Paul J. M. van Tongeren - 1994 - International Philosophical Quarterly 34 (2):199-214.


Added to PP

60 (#269,397)

6 months
10 (#276,350)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Jacob Van
United States Air Force Academy

References found in this work

Principles of biomedical ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by James F. Childress.
What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Ethics and Intuitions.Peter Singer - 2005 - The Journal of Ethics 9 (3-4):331-352.

View all 17 references / Add more references