Moral Knowledge by Oliver A. Johnson (auth.)

By Oliver A. Johnson (auth.)

As its identify shows, this e-book is anxious with assorted fields of philosophy, ethics and epistemology. the majority of the argument is dedicated to epistemological questions, as those come up in the context of morality. therefore, the conclusions I succeed in may perhaps most likely top be defined as prolegomena to the elaboration of a concept of ethics. i've got plans, which i'm hoping should be discovered within the following few years, of elaborating this sort of thought. i began paintings on ethical wisdom in the summertime of 1958 with assistance from a college college Fellowship, for which i'm so much thankful. of the study for the e-book, in addition to an excellent little bit of its writing, a lot used to be performed in libraries, The collage Library, Berkeley, and the Bodleian Library, Oxford. contributors of the staffs of either libraries, via their courtesy and helpfulness, lightened immeasurably the duty of my study. lowe a distinct debt of gratitude to 4 people-to Mr.

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Thus, moral knowledge is possible. I shall not here attempt to examine the specific question of the selfevidence of the utilitarian thesis that it is always our duty to do the act that will produce the best possible consequences in the situation in which we find ourselves. As I have already remarked (in § 2) moral philosophers like the deontologists, who themselves appeal to intuition as the basis for moral knowledge, have denied this utilitarian claim to be self-evident. To discuss the controversy between the utilitarians and the deontologists in detail would require too long a digression from the main theme of this book.

For all of the theories attempting to derive our duties from the concept of goodness that I have examined in the chapter either commit the deductive fallacy directly or, in attempting to avoid it, run into other insuperable difficulties, or both. This is fairly obvious with some types of "goodness" theory, naturalistic reductionism, for example. When a naturalist concludes that we ought to do some act and, asked for a reason why we ought, replies that our doing it will satisfy someone's desires or will promote social integration, it is plain that there is a logical gap in his argument that cannot be bridged.

To avoid possible confusion I shall distinguish these two uses as follows: As I used the term in the last chapter, intuitionism means a theory which holds that moral truths can be apprehended by means of direct intuition or moral insight. Such truths are for it self-evident. As the term has often been used historically, however-and this is the second use-it means a theory which holds that rightness, duty, or "oughtness" are fundamental, irreducible moral concepts, of at least equal importance to moral philosophy as the concept of goodness.

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