The Prudent Conscience View

International Philosophical Quarterly 54 (2):127-141 (2014)
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Moral intuitionism, which claims that some moral seemings are justification-conferring, has become an increasingly popular account in moral epistemology. Defenses of the position have largely focused on the standard account, according to which the justification-conferring power of a moral seeming is determined by its phenomenal credentials alone. Unfortunately, the standard account is a less plausible version of moral intuitionism because it does not take etiology seriously. In this paper, I provide an outline and defense of a non-standard account of moral intuitionism that I dub the “Prudent Conscience View.” According to this view, phenomenal credentials only partially determine the justification-conferring power of a moral seeming, for a seeming’s justification-conferring power is also determined by its etiology. In brief, a moral seeming is justification-conferring to the degree that the conscience that gave rise to it is functioning properly, and a person's conscience functions properly to the degree that the person is prudent.

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Brian Besong
Saint Francis University


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