Moral Testimony: Going on the Offensive

Oxford Studies in Metaethics 12 (2017)
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Is there anything peculiarly bad about accepting moral testimony? According to pessimists, trusting moral testimony is an inadequate substitute for working out your moral views on your own. Enlightenment requires thinking for oneself, at least where morality is concerned. Optimists, by contrast, aim to show that trusting moral testimony isn’t bad largely by arguing that it’s no worse than trusting testimony generally. Essentially, they play defense. However, this chapter goes on the offensive. It explores two reasons for thinking that trusting another person’s moral testimony is especially good. The first is an extended application of some of the lessons from recent discussions about epistemic injustice. The second, borrowing some cryptic epistemological thoughts from the young Marx, is that trusting another’s moral testimony is necessary for perfecting ourselves. It concludes that it can be better to accept moral testimony than to arrive at the same moral view on your own.



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Eric Wiland
University of Missouri, St. Louis

Citations of this work

The epistemology of moral disagreement.Richard Rowland - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (2):1-16.
Epistemological problems of testimony.Jonathan E. Adler - 2006 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Conceptual engineering and semantic deference.Joey Pollock - 2019 - Studia Philosophica Estonica 12:81-98.

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