Analogies, Moral Intuitions, and the Expertise Defence

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The evidential value of moral intuitions has been challenged by psychological work showing that the intuitions of ordinary people are affected by distorting factors. One reply to this challenge, the expertise defence, claims that training in philosophical thinking confers enhanced reliability on the intuitions of professional philosophers. This defence is often expressed through analogy: since we do not allow doubts about folk judgments in domains like mathematics or physics to undermine the plausibility of judgments by experts in these domains, we also should not do so in philosophy. In this paper I clarify the logic of the analogy strategy, and defend it against recent challenges by Jesper Ryberg. The discussion exposes an interesting divide: while Ryberg’s challenges may weaken analogies between morality and domains like mathematics, they do not affect analogies to other domains, such as physics. I conclude that the expertise defence can be supported by analogical means, though care is required in selecting an appropriate analog. I discuss implications of this conclusion for the expertise defence debate and for study of the moral domain itself.
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Archival date: 2015-11-21
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Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.Williams, Bernard Arthur Owen

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