Moral Rationalism

Edited by Christopher Michael Cloos (University of California at Santa Barbara)
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  1. What Sentimentalists Should Say About Emotions.Charlie Kurth - forthcoming - Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
    Recent work by emotion researchers indicates that emotions have a multi-level structure. Sophisticated sentimentalists should take note of this work—for it better enables them to defend a substantive role for emotion in moral cognition. Contra the rationalist criticisms of May 2018, emotions are not only able to carry morally relevant information but can also substantially influence moral judgment and reasoning.
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  2. Moral Knowledge By Deduction.Declan Smithies - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    How is moral knowledge possible? This paper defends the anti-Humean thesis that we can acquire moral knowledge by deduction from wholly non-moral premises. According to Hume’s Law, as it has become known, we cannot deduce an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’, since it is “altogether inconceivable how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it” (Hume, 1739, 3.1.1). This paper explores the prospects for a deductive theory of moral knowledge that rejects Hume’s Law.
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  3. Morality and Practical Reasons.Douglas W. Portmore - 2021 - Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
    As Socrates famously noted, there is no more important question than how we ought to live. The answer to this question depends on how the reasons that we have for living in various different ways combine and compete. To illustrate, suppose that I've just received a substantial raise. What should I do with the extra money? I have most moral reason to donate it to effective charities but most self-interested reason to spend it on luxuries for myself. So, whether I (...)
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  4. Cooperative Intuitionism.Stephen Ingram - 2020 - The Philosophical Quarterly 70 (281):780-799.
    According to pluralistic intuitionist theories, some of our moral beliefs are non-inferentially justified, and these beliefs come in both an a priori and an a posteriori variety. In this paper I present new support for this pluralistic form of intuitionism by examining the deeply social nature of moral inquiry. This is something that intuitionists have tended to neglect. It does play an important role in an intuitionist theory offered by Bengson, Cuneo, and Shafer-Landau (forth), but whilst they invoke the social (...)
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  5. A Brief Explanation of Kant's Enlightenment Article.Florian Millo - 2020
    A presentation of Kant's idea for enlightenment process that was happening at that time. I try to be objective as it is needed to give a thorough explanation for what was the main subject in this process. Kant explains the main idea of enlightenment and describes it with examples for which stands descriptive and understandable for that period.
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  6. Analyzing Debunking Arguments in Moral Psychology: Beyond the Counterfactual Analysis of Influence by Irrelevant Factors.Joanna Demaree-Cotton - 2019 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 42 (e151):15-17.
    May assumes that if moral beliefs are counterfactually dependent on irrelevant factors, then those moral beliefs are based on defective belief-forming processes. This assumption is false. Whether influence by irrelevant factors is debunking depends on the mechanisms through which this influence occurs. This raises the empirical bar for debunkers and helps May avoid an objection to his Debunker’s Dilemma.
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  7. What Is Sentimentalism? What Is Rationalism? Commentary on Joshua May.Antti Kauppinen - 2019 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 42:e157.
    In Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind, Joshua May argues successfully that many claims about the causal influence of affect on moral judgment are overblown. But the findings he cites are compatible with many of the key arguments of philosophical sentimentalists. His account of rationalism, in turn, relies on an overly broad notion of inference, and leaves open crucial questions about how we reason to moral conclusions.
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  8. Immorality and Irrationality.Alex Worsnip* - 2019 - Philosophical Perspectives 33 (1):220-253.
    Does immorality necessarily involve irrationality? The question is often taken to be among the deepest in moral philosophy. But apparently deep questions sometimes admit of deflationary answers. In this case we can make way for a deflationary answer by appealing to dualism about rationality, according to which there are two fundamentally distinct notions of rationality: structural rationality and substantive rationality. I have defended dualism elsewhere. Here, I’ll argue that it allows us to embrace a sensible – I will not say (...)
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  9. Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind.Joshua May - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
    The burgeoning science of ethics has produced a trend toward pessimism. Ordinary moral thought and action, we’re told, are profoundly influenced by arbitrary factors and ultimately driven by unreasoned feelings. This book counters the current orthodoxy on its own terms by carefully engaging with the empirical literature. The resulting view, optimistic rationalism, shows the pervasive role played by reason, and ultimately defuses sweeping debunking arguments in ethics. The science does suggest that moral knowledge and virtue don’t come easily. However, despite (...)
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  10. Moral Reasoning and Emotion.Joshua May & Victor Kumar - 2018 - In Karen Jones, Mark Timmons & Aaron Zimmerman (eds.), Routledge Handbook on Moral Epistemology. Routledge. pp. 139-156.
    This chapter discusses contemporary scientific research on the role of reason and emotion in moral judgment. The literature suggests that moral judgment is influenced by both reasoning and emotion separately, but there is also emerging evidence of the interaction between the two. While there are clear implications for the rationalism-sentimentalism debate, we conclude that important questions remain open about how central emotion is to moral judgment. We also suggest ways in which moral philosophy is not only guided by empirical research (...)
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  11. Naturalistic Moral Realism, Moral Rationalism, and Non-Fundamental Epistemology.Tristram McPherson - 2018 - In Karen Jones & Francois Schroeter (eds.), The Many Moral Rationalisms. Oxford University Press. pp. 187-209.
    This paper takes up an important epistemological challenge to the naturalistic moral realist: that her metaphysical commitments are difficult to square with a plausible rationalist view about the epistemology of morality. The paper begins by clarifying and generalizing this challenge. It then illustrates how the generalized challenge can be answered by a form of naturalistic moral realism that I dub joint-carving moral realism. Both my framing of this challenge and my answer advertise the methodological significance of non-fundamental epistemological theorizing, which (...)
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  12. Intuition, Self-Evidence, and Understanding.Stratton-Lake Philip - 2016 - In Russ Shafer Landau (ed.), Oxford Studes in Meta Ethics. Oxford: OUP. pp. 28-44.
    Here I criticise Audi's account of self-evidece. I deny that understanding of a proposition can justify belief in it and offfer an account of intuition that can take the place of understanding in an account of self-evidence.
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  13. Moral Rationalism Without Overridingness.Alfred Archer - 2014 - Ratio 27 (1):100-114.
    Moral Rationalism is the view that if an act is morally required then it is what there is most reason to do. It is often assumed that the truth of Moral Rationalism is dependent on some version of The Overridingness Thesis, the view that moral reasons override nonmoral reasons. However, as Douglas Portmore has pointed out, the two can come apart; we can accept Moral Rationalism without accepting any version of The Overridingness Thesis. Nevertheless, The Overridingness Thesis serves as one (...)
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  14. Axiarchism and Selectors.John Russell Roberts - 2014 - Faith and Philosophy 31 (4):412-421.
    This essay offers a defense of Axiarchism's answer to the question, "Why does the world exit?" against prominent objections leveled against it by Derek Parfit. Parfit rejects the Axiarchist answer while abstracting from it his own Selector strategy. I argue that the abstraction fails, and that even if we were to regard Axiarchism as an instance of a Selector hypothesis, we should regard it as the only viable one. I also argue that Parfit's abstraction leads him to mistake the nature (...)
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  15. Reason in its Practical Application.E. Sonny Elizondo - 2013 - Philosophers' Imprint 13:1-17.
    Is practical reason a cognitive faculty? Do practical judgments make claims about a subject matter that are appropriately assessed in terms of their agreement with that subject matter? According to Kantians like Christine Korsgaard, the answer is no. To think otherwise is to conflate the theoretical and the practical, the epistemic and the ethical. I am not convinced. In this paper, I motivate my skepticism through examination of the very figure who inspires Korsgaard’s rejection of cognitivism: Kant. For as I (...)
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  16. Intuition Versus Reason: Strategies People Use to Think About Moral Problems.Mark Fedyk & Barbara Koslowski - 2013 - Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
    We asked college students to make judgments about realistic moral situations presented as dilemmas (which asked for an either/or decision) vs. problems (which did not ask for such a decision) as well as when the situation explicitly included affectively salient language vs. non-affectively salient language. We report two main findings. The first is that there are four different types of cognitive strategy that subjects use in their responses: simple reasoning, intuitive judging, cautious reasoning, and empathic reasoning. We give operational definitions (...)
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  17. Wollaston, William.John J. Tilley - 2013 - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
    This is a brief reference article on William Wollaston's moral theory, including some influential objections to it.
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  18. The Problem of Inconsistency in Wollaston's Moral Theory.John J. Tilley - 2012 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 29 (3):265–80.
    This paper challenges Francis Hutcheson's and John Clarke of Hull's alleged demonstrations that William Wollaston's moral theory is inconsistent. It also present a form of the inconsistency objection that fares better than theirs, namely, that of Thomas Bott (1688-1754). Ultimately, the paper shows that Wollaston's moral standard is not what some have thought it to be; that consequently, his philosophy withstands the best-known efforts to expose it as inconsistent; and further, that one of the least-known British moralists is more important (...)
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  19. Exciting Reasons and Moral Rationalism in Hutcheson's Illustrations Upon the Moral Sense.John J. Tilley - 2012 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 50 (1):53-83.
    One of the most oft-cited parts of Francis Hutcheson’s Illustrations upon the Moral Sense (1728) is his discussion of “exciting reasons.” In this paper I address the question: What is the function of that discussion? In particular, what is its relation to Hutcheson’s attempt to show that the rationalists’ normative thesis ultimately implies, contrary to their moral epistemology, that moral ideas spring from a sense? Despite first appearances, Hutcheson’s discussion of exciting reasons is not part of that attempt. Mainly, it (...)
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  20. Self-Evidence and A Priori Moral Knowledge.Elizabeth Tropman - 2012 - Disputatio 4 (33):459-467.
    According to rationalists about moral knowledge, some moral truths are knowable a priori. Rationalists often defend their position by claiming that some moral propositions are self-evidently true. Copp 2007 has recently challenged this rationalist strategy. Copp argues that even if some moral propositions are self-evident, this is not enough to secure rationalism about moral knowledge, since it turns out that such self-evident propositions are only knowable a posteriori. This paper considers the merits of Copp’s challenge. After clarifying the rationalists’ appeal (...)
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  21. Ethics and the Nature of Action.Heine A. Holmen - 2011 - Dissertation, University of Oslo
    The following thesis starts from the question «why be moral?» and adresses an action-theoretic strategy for answering this question in the positive by reference to the constitutive natur of actions. In these debates, the epistemology of action has turned into a central issue. The thesis adresses these debates and develops a novel account of the epistemology: an account that may well turn out to provide a ground for the aforementioned constitutivist strategies.
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  22. Consequentialism and Moral Rationalism.Douglas W. Portmore - 2011 - In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics. Oxford University Press.
    IN THIS PAPER, I make a presumptive case for moral rationalism: the view that agents can be morally required to do only what they have decisive reason to do, all things considered. And I argue that this view leads us to reject all traditional versions of act‐consequentialism. I begin by explaining how moral rationalism leads us to reject utilitarianism.
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  23. The Standards of Practical Reasoning. [REVIEW]Matthew Silverstein - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (240):631-638.
    A critical study of Kieran Setiya's *Reasons without Rationalism*.
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  24. Hypothetical Justifications.Bernd Lahno - 2009 - RMM:67-82.
    A basic conviction in moral non-cognitivism is: only hypothetical norms may be justified. Hartmut Kliemt argues for a moderate variant: there are only hypothetical justifications of norms whether the norms are hypothetical or categorical in kind. In this paper the con- cept of ‘hypothetical justification’ is analyzed. It is argued that hypothetical justifications are not of the kind that we should look for in normative ethics.
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  25. Reasons, Rational Requirements, and the Putative Pseudo-Question “Why Be Moral?”.John J. Tilley - 2008 - Synthese 161 (2):309 - 323.
    In this paper, I challenge a familiar argument -- a composite of arguments in the literature -- for the view that “Why be moral?” is a pseudo-question. I do so by refuting a component of that argument, a component that is not only crucial to the argument but important in its own right. That component concerns the status of moral reasons in replies to “Why be moral?”; consequently, this paper concerns reasons and rationality no less than it concerns morality. The (...)
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  26. Knowledge to Wisdom: We Need a Revolution.Nicholas Maxwell - 2006 - Philosophia 34 (3):377-378.
    The following document is a very brief summary of a thesis and argument that I have devoted the last 30 years of my life to trying to get across to my fellow human beings. It was first spelled out in What’s Wrong With Science? (Bran’s Head Books, 1976) and subsequently in From Knowledge to Wisdom (Blackwell, 1984), Is Science Neurotic? (Imperial College Press, 2004) and numerous articles, references to which can be found on http://​www.​ucl.ac.uk/from-knowledge-to-wisdom . Three years ago an international (...)
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  27. Review of Ethical Intuitionism: Re-Evaluations. [REVIEW]Pekka Väyrynen - 2006 - European Journal of Philosophy 14 (1):159-63.
    This piece is a short review of a volume of papers on ethical intuitionism (Ethical Intuitionism: Re-evaluations, ed. Philip Stratton-Lake, Oxford University Press, 2002).
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  28. On the Parallel Between Mathematics and Morals.James Franklin - 2004 - Philosophy 79 (1):97-119.
    The imperviousness of mathematical truth to anti-objectivist attacks has always heartened those who defend objectivism in other areas, such as ethics. It is argued that the parallel between mathematics and ethics is close and does support objectivist theories of ethics. The parallel depends on the foundational role of equality in both disciplines. Despite obvious differences in their subject matter, mathematics and ethics share a status as pure forms of knowledge, distinct from empirical sciences. A pure understanding of principles is possible (...)
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  29. Can Humanity Learn to Create a Better World? The Crisis of Science Without Wisdom.Nicholas Maxwell - 2001 - In Tom Bentley & Daniel Stedman Jones (eds.), The Moral Universe.
    Can we learn to create a better world? Yes, if we first create traditions and institutions of learning rationally devoted to that end. At present universities all over the world are dominated by the idea that the basic aim of academic inquiry is to acquire knowledge. Such a conception of inquiry, judged from the standpoint of helping us learn wisdom and civilization, is grotesquely and damagingly irrational. We need to change our approach to academic enterprise if we are to create (...)
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  30. The Enterprise of Socratic Metaethics.Adrian M. S. Piper - 2000 - In Naomi Zack (ed.), Women of Color and Philosophy, A Critical Reader. London: Blackwell. pp. 91-131.
    That human beings have the potential for rationality and the ability to cultivate it is a fact of human nature. But to value rationality and its subsidiary character dispositions - impartiality, intellectual discrimination, foresight, deliberation, prudence, self-reflection, self-control - is another matter entirely. -/- I am going to take it as a given that if a person's freedom to act on her impulses and gratify her desires is constrained by the existence of others' equal, or more powerful, conflicting impulses and (...)
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  31. Intuizionismo etico.Sergio Volodia Marcello Cremaschi - 1996 - In Virgilio Melchiorre (ed.), Enciclopedia della Filosofia e delle Scienze Umane. Novara, Italy: DeAgostini. pp. 467.
    A short reconstruction of the story of eighteenth-century ethical rationalism followed bu the nineteenth century controversy between utilitarianism and the 'intuitive system' reaching Sidgwick, Moore and David Ross.
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  32. Why People Prefer Pleasure to Pain.Irwin Goldstein - 1980 - Philosophy 55 (July):349-362.
    Against Hume and Epicurus I argue that our selection of pleasure, pain and other objects as our ultimate ends is guided by reason. There are two parts to the explanation of our attraction to pleasure, our aversion to pain, and our consequent preference of pleasure to pain: 1. Pleasure presents us with reason to seek it, pain presents us reason to avoid it, and 2. Being intelligent, human beings (and to a degree, many animals) are disposed to be guided by (...)
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