Article/Publication Details

A Critique of Intuitionism and Huemer’s Revisionist Account

(Original title: Kritika intuicionismu a Huemerův pokus o jeho revizi)
Filozofia, 2020, vol. 75, No 9, pp. 776 – 792.
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Abstract

Intuitionism had been one of the most prominent ethical approaches over two hundred years, especially on the British Isles. In the first third of the 20th century it started losing its power; however, in the last few years several philosophers have been trying to renew this approach, which has made it one of the most discussed topics of contemporary metaethics. Intuitionism is a foundationalist approach which regards basic moral beliefs, i.e., intuitions, as self-evident. Nonetheless, modern intuitionists have to cope with empirical evidence which shows that intuitions are not as reliable a source of moral knowledge as would be necessary in this case. The aim of the paper is to present and discuss contemporary critique of intuitionism. First, I introduce intuitionism and its basic assumptions, both ontological and epistemological. Second, I focus on the criticism itself, especially on its empirical aspects concerning the role and the reliability of intuitions. As some of the proponents of intuitionism try to react to these objections and create a less flawed version of this approach, in the third part, I describe one of these attempts, i.e., Michael Huemer’s revisionary intuitionism. Finally, I try to explain why intuitionism – despite these efforts – remains a problematic approach and why ethics might be better off without it.

Keywords

Coherentism, Descriptive ethics, Intuitionism, Intuitions, Metaethics, Moral epistemology, Reflective equilibrium, Scepticism