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Moral Epistemology

Fkkize
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9/28/2015 7:19:45 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Recently I was asked how we come to know what is moral and what is not.
This is a question for moral epistemology.

But before we can talk about that, we need an overview of regular epistemology first, as moral epistemology is just an extension of that.
Many distinct views fall under each category, however I will just present the basic idea and not get into details to much.

Foundationalism
According to foundationalism, there are basic beliefs and inferential beliefs.
Basic beliefs can (but don't have to) include your sense experience, your existence and even the belief in God.
These basic beliefs then serve as the basis to infer other beliefs.
For example, from some basic belief about what I see, I might infer that I am in a forest.
This justification works in only one direction.

Coherentism
According to coherentism, there are only inferential beliefs.
The degree of justification is dependent on the degree to which some belief coheres with the rest of one's beliefs.
Beliefs justify omnidirectional.

Contextualism
According to contextualism, to "know" something is context-sensitive.
This means the proposition "I know that X" has a different meaning in different contexts.
For example, talking to someone on the street I might say that I "know" the way, however when talking to skeptics they would object I don't actually know the way.
This is because we are talking about different standards of justification.

Foundherentism
Foundherentism is a blend of foundationalism and coherentism.
From foundationalism it takes that experiential input is necessary to be justified to any degree.
From coherentism it takes that all beliefs can at least in part be justified by mutual support.

And now to their moral analogues.

Moral Foundationalism
MF comes in a more empiricist and a more rationalist version, but that would go to far into the details for now.
For MF the basic beliefs can be intuitions, rational grasps of the self-evident and these kinds of things.

I forgot where I read it, but someone (it might just be IEP or SEP) wrote that it seems like at least methodological MF is assumed in pretty much all of ethics.
Consider Thomson's Violinist analogy. In response to this people usually either agree that it shows the permissibility of abortion or disagree and may even come up with a different analogy.
By now I have probably seen a handful of thought experiments concerning abortion. What do thought experiments aim for?
Guide our intuitions in a way that lets us uncover actual knowledge about the world.

Moral Coherentism
The most prominent example of MC is Rawl's A Theory of Justice. Anyone who knows a little about it should see its relation to coherentism.
An important ideal for moral coherentists is the reflective equilibrium.
It is a balance and coherence of a set of beliefs at which we arrive by deliberation and adjustment among principles.

Now, depending on one's other metaethical views, particularly one's moral metaphysics, one might probably be more attracted to one or the other.
All positions discussed here are cognitivist positions. That means (1) moral claims express beliefs and (2) moral claims are truth-apt.
We can differentiate between strong and weak cognitivists.
For strong cognitivists, moral claims are true in virtue of being cognitive upshots to some kind of moral reality. As such, MF usually rings better with them.
For weak cognitivists, they are not. Weak cognitivism is more strongly associated with contractualism and contractarianism.

Moral Contextualism
For moral contextualists the truth-conditions for moral claims not only depend on the properties of the respective acts, they also depend on the context in which these judgements are made, such as the standards endorsed by the judging agent.

Sounds like relativism? You are not alone.

Moral Foundherentism
MFH has just as its empirical equivalent, two central thesis.
First of all, it is necessary for an agent to have moral intuitions to be justified to any degree.
Secondly, these intuitive beliefs should be further justified by their mutual support to other moral and non-moral beliefs.

At first I was not really convinced by this whole talk about intuitions, but then I considered phenomenal conservativism.

"If it seems to S that P, then, in the absence of defeaters, S thereby has at least some justification for believing that P"(1)

I think this can be used to great success in justifying empirical beliefs and serves as a great basis for foundationalist and foundherentist theories and their moral analogues.

Which is why I ultimately root for a kind of moral foundherentism.

(1) Huemer 2007, p. 30
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
Fkkize
Posts: 2,149
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9/29/2015 5:15:29 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Bump.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
popculturepooka
Posts: 7,924
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9/29/2015 6:44:19 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I'm a fan of common sense epistemologies like Michael Huemer's....which is why I'm a moral realist.
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Fkkize
Posts: 2,149
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9/29/2015 8:03:52 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 9/29/2015 6:44:19 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I'm a fan of common sense epistemologies like Michael Huemer's....which is why I'm a moral realist.

I remember the argument for moral realism you presented a while ago, wasn't it by Huemer, too?
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
popculturepooka
Posts: 7,924
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9/29/2015 9:54:02 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 9/29/2015 8:03:52 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 9/29/2015 6:44:19 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I'm a fan of common sense epistemologies like Michael Huemer's....which is why I'm a moral realist.

I remember the argument for moral realism you presented a while ago, wasn't it by Huemer, too?

Yup! :) He does good work in meta ethics.
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Fkkize
Posts: 2,149
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9/29/2015 11:01:18 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 9/29/2015 9:54:02 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 9/29/2015 8:03:52 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 9/29/2015 6:44:19 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
I'm a fan of common sense epistemologies like Michael Huemer's....which is why I'm a moral realist.

I remember the argument for moral realism you presented a while ago, wasn't it by Huemer, too?

Yup! :) He does good work in meta ethics.

I'll have to get back to that argument later.
Anyway, in case you are interested, here's another argument for moral realism (which I won't stop advertising)
http://www.debate.org...
Interested in your thoughts.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
CorieMike
Posts: 67
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9/29/2015 11:16:23 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 9/28/2015 7:19:45 PM, Fkkize wrote:
Recently I was asked how we come to know what is moral and what is not.
This is a question for moral epistemology.

But before we can talk about that, we need an overview of regular epistemology first, as moral epistemology is just an extension of that.
Many distinct views fall under each category, however I will just present the basic idea and not get into details to much.

Foundationalism
According to foundationalism, there are basic beliefs and inferential beliefs.
Basic beliefs can (but don't have to) include your sense experience, your existence and even the belief in God.
These basic beliefs then serve as the basis to infer other beliefs.
For example, from some basic belief about what I see, I might infer that I am in a forest.
This justification works in only one direction.

Coherentism
According to coherentism, there are only inferential beliefs.
The degree of justification is dependent on the degree to which some belief coheres with the rest of one's beliefs.
Beliefs justify omnidirectional.

Contextualism
According to contextualism, to "know" something is context-sensitive.
This means the proposition "I know that X" has a different meaning in different contexts.
For example, talking to someone on the street I might say that I "know" the way, however when talking to skeptics they would object I don't actually know the way.
This is because we are talking about different standards of justification.

Foundherentism
Foundherentism is a blend of foundationalism and coherentism.
From foundationalism it takes that experiential input is necessary to be justified to any degree.
From coherentism it takes that all beliefs can at least in part be justified by mutual support.

And now to their moral analogues.

Moral Foundationalism
MF comes in a more empiricist and a more rationalist version, but that would go to far into the details for now.
For MF the basic beliefs can be intuitions, rational grasps of the self-evident and these kinds of things.

I forgot where I read it, but someone (it might just be IEP or SEP) wrote that it seems like at least methodological MF is assumed in pretty much all of ethics.
Consider Thomson's Violinist analogy. In response to this people usually either agree that it shows the permissibility of abortion or disagree and may even come up with a different analogy.
By now I have probably seen a handful of thought experiments concerning abortion. What do thought experiments aim for?
Guide our intuitions in a way that lets us uncover actual knowledge about the world.

Moral Coherentism
The most prominent example of MC is Rawl's A Theory of Justice. Anyone who knows a little about it should see its relation to coherentism.
An important ideal for moral coherentists is the reflective equilibrium.
It is a balance and coherence of a set of beliefs at which we arrive by deliberation and adjustment among principles.

Now, depending on one's other metaethical views, particularly one's moral metaphysics, one might probably be more attracted to one or the other.
All positions discussed here are cognitivist positions. That means (1) moral claims express beliefs and (2) moral claims are truth-apt.
We can differentiate between strong and weak cognitivists.
For strong cognitivists, moral claims are true in virtue of being cognitive upshots to some kind of moral reality. As such, MF usually rings better with them.
For weak cognitivists, they are not. Weak cognitivism is more strongly associated with contractualism and contractarianism.

Moral Contextualism
For moral contextualists the truth-conditions for moral claims not only depend on the properties of the respective acts, they also depend on the context in which these judgements are made, such as the standards endorsed by the judging agent.

Sounds like relativism? You are not alone.

Moral Foundherentism
MFH has just as its empirical equivalent, two central thesis.
First of all, it is necessary for an agent to have moral intuitions to be justified to any degree.
Secondly, these intuitive beliefs should be further justified by their mutual support to other moral and non-moral beliefs.

At first I was not really convinced by this whole talk about intuitions, but then I considered phenomenal conservativism.

"If it seems to S that P, then, in the absence of defeaters, S thereby has at least some justification for believing that P"(1)

I think this can be used to great success in justifying empirical beliefs and serves as a great basis for foundationalist and foundherentist theories and their moral analogues.

Which is why I ultimately root for a kind of moral foundherentism.

(1) Huemer 2007, p. 30

All these positions are question begging (we need to think carefully before we accept the truth condition of question begging positions). You may choose foundherentism but how is it better than any other. It's simply a preference tainted by personal bias, no more arbitrary than a skeptic's position. None of these can accurately address the problem of the criterion. If we try to dissolve it like Robert Amico tried but that would be assuming the sketpic's position. Contradictions will emerge and create the what is known as the principle of explosion. Andrew Cling argued it best. The Problem of the Criterion does not require skeptical interlocutors. The difficulty illuminated by the Problem of the Criterion is that anti-skeptics (foundherentists, etc...) have commitments that seem plausible when considered individually, but they are jointly inconsistent. The inconsistency among these commitments is present whether or not there are skeptics. Thus arguing that the Problem of the Criterion is constituted by questions that cannot be answered does not dissolve the problem; it brings the problem to light.

So all you are doing is prefering one over another when this self warrant doesn't make it any more true than false. Either you are a particularist, methodist or skeptic. They are all mutually question begging. Therefore, any answer to the question "how we come to know what is moral and what is not" will be begging the question.
****Wisdom Begins In Wonder - Socrates****
The path of sound credence is through the thick forest of skepticism - George Jean Nathan
Fkkize
Posts: 2,149
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9/30/2015 7:18:47 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 9/29/2015 11:16:23 PM, CorieMike wrote:

All these positions are question begging (we need to think carefully before we accept the truth condition of question begging positions). You may choose foundherentism but how is it better than any other. It's simply a preference tainted by personal bias, no more arbitrary than a skeptic's position.
This was meant as an overview lol. I explicitely said I am not going into details, such as arguments for and against each view.

None of these can accurately address the problem of the criterion.
Contextualism does.

If we try to dissolve it like Robert Amico tried but that would be assuming the sketpic's position. Contradictions will emerge and create the what is known as the principle of explosion. Andrew Cling argued it best. The Problem of the Criterion does not require skeptical interlocutors. The difficulty illuminated by the Problem of the Criterion is that anti-skeptics (foundherentists, etc...) have commitments that seem plausible when considered individually, but they are jointly inconsistent. The inconsistency among these commitments is present whether or not there are skeptics. Thus arguing that the Problem of the Criterion is constituted by questions that cannot be answered does not dissolve the problem; it brings the problem to light.
This is, as I've said, an overview. Do you expect someone who asked me about moral epistemology to be intersted in some solution to the problem of the criterion.

So all you are doing is prefering one over another when this self warrant doesn't make it any more true than false. Either you are a particularist, methodist or skeptic. They are all mutually question begging. Therefore, any answer to the question "how we come to know what is moral and what is not" will be begging the question.
Umh ok.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
stealspell
Posts: 980
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9/30/2015 9:44:04 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 9/28/2015 7:19:45 PM, Fkkize wrote:
Recently I was asked how we come to know what is moral and what is not.
This is a question for moral epistemology.

Is it though? Is that what parents do, teach their children moral epistemology so they can come to know what is moral and what is not?
CorieMike
Posts: 67
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9/30/2015 10:50:58 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 9/30/2015 7:18:47 AM, Fkkize wrote:
At 9/29/2015 11:16:23 PM, CorieMike wrote:

All these positions are question begging (we need to think carefully before we accept the truth condition of question begging positions). You may choose foundherentism but how is it better than any other. It's simply a preference tainted by personal bias, no more arbitrary than a skeptic's position.
This was meant as an overview lol. I explicitely said I am not going into details, such as arguments for and against each view.

I get that.

None of these can accurately address the problem of the criterion.
Contextualism does.

How so?

If we try to dissolve it like Robert Amico tried but that would be assuming the sketpic's position. Contradictions will emerge and create the what is known as the principle of explosion. Andrew Cling argued it best. The Problem of the Criterion does not require skeptical interlocutors. The difficulty illuminated by the Problem of the Criterion is that anti-skeptics (foundherentists, etc...) have commitments that seem plausible when considered individually, but they are jointly inconsistent. The inconsistency among these commitments is present whether or not there are skeptics. Thus arguing that the Problem of the Criterion is constituted by questions that cannot be answered does not dissolve the problem; it brings the problem to light.
This is, as I've said, an overview. Do you expect someone who asked me about moral epistemology to be intersted in some solution to the problem of the criterion.

I can only speak for myself. I know I would.

So all you are doing is prefering one over another when this self warrant doesn't make it any more true than false. Either you are a particularist, methodist or skeptic. They are all mutually question begging. Therefore, any answer to the question "how we come to know what is moral and what is not" will be begging the question.
Umh ok.
****Wisdom Begins In Wonder - Socrates****
The path of sound credence is through the thick forest of skepticism - George Jean Nathan
SM2
Posts: 546
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10/1/2015 5:30:57 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 9/28/2015 7:19:45 PM, Fkkize wrote:
Recently I was asked how we come to know what is moral and what is not.

Answer: Morals are a set of arbitrary rules, and have no significance unless followed or enforced. Learning morality is like learning a language, and not everybody speaks the same language.