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Challenges to Moral and Religious BeliefDisagreement and Evolution$
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Michael Bergmann and Patrick Kain

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199669776

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199669776.001.0001

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Moral Disagreement among Philosophers

Moral Disagreement among Philosophers

(p.23) 1 Moral Disagreement among Philosophers
Challenges to Moral and Religious Belief

Ralph Wedgwood

Oxford University Press

Many philosophers argue that non-sceptical moral realists cannot adequately explain the sort of moral disagreement that exists. This chapter responds to this argument, focusing on what might seem a particularly hard case for non-sceptical moral realists to explain – moral disagreement among philosophers. First, this apparent problem for non-sceptical moral realism is explored. Then an account is offered of the distinctive methods of moral theory. This account allows for two sources of error in moral theories: (a) in our pre-theoretical intuitions, and (b) in the way in which we articulate and evaluate theories by pursuing reflective equilibrium. In conclusion, it is argued that moral theorists are not entitled to very high levels of confidence that they have correctly identified the ultimate first principles of morality, but this is entirely compatible with ordinary thinkers’ knowing a large number of moral truths.

Keywords:   disagreement, moral realism, moral scepticism, methodology of moral theory, reflective equilibrium, moral intuitions

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