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Moral Epistemology

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How do we know right from wrong? Do we even have moral knowledge? Moral epistemology studies these and related questions about our understanding of virtue and vice. It is one of philosophy's perennial problems, reaching back to Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, Hume and Kant, and has recently been the subject of intense debate as a result of findings in developmental and social psychology.In this outstanding introduction to the subject Aaron Zimmerman covers the following key topics: What is moral epistemology? What are its methods? Including a discussion of Socrates, Gettier and contemporary theories of knowledgeSkepticism about moral knowledge based on the anthropological record of deep and persistent moral disagreement, including contextualismMoral nihilism, including debates concerning God and morality and the relation between moral knowledge and our motives and reasons to act morallyEpistemic moral scepticism, intuitionism and the possibility of inferring 'ought' from 'is,' discussing the views of Locke, Hume, Kant, Ross, Audi, Thomson, Harman, Sturgeon and many othersHow children acquire moral concepts and become more reliable judges.Criticisms of those who would reduce moral knowledge to value-neutral knowledge or attempt to replace moral belief with emotion.Throughout the book Zimmerman argues that our belief in moral knowledge can survive sceptical challenges. He also draws on a rich range of examples from Plato's Meno and Dickens's David Copperfield to Bernard Madoff and Saddam Hussein.Including chapter summaries and annotated further reading at the end of each chapter, Moral Epistemology is essential reading for all students of ethics, epistemology and moral psychology.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Moral epistemology: context and methodp. 1
What is moral epistemology?p. 1
Socrates, Gettier, and the definition of ˘knowledge÷p. 3
The standard method: levels of inquiryp. 9
Theories of moral knowledge: an overviewp. 14
Chapter summaryp. 22
Further readingp. 23
Moral disagreementp. 25
Disagreement and skepticismp. 25
Moral contextualismp. 33
Chapter summaryp. 40
Further readingp. 41
Moral nihilismp. 42
Moral skepticism characterizedp. 42
The death of godp. 43
Mackie's queernessp. 47
Motives internalismp. 54
Reasons internalismp. 61
Chapter summaryp. 69
Further readingp. 71
The skeptic and the intuitionistp. 73
The Pyrrhonian problematicp. 73
Non-inferential moral knowledgep. 76
Chapter summaryp. 103
Further readingp. 105
Deductive moral knowledgep. 107
On deducing ˘ought÷ from ˘is÷p. 107
In search of an epistemologically valuable moral deductionp. 113
Assessing the epistemological value of our deductionp. 124
Chapter summaryp. 138
Further readingp. 139
Abductive moral knowledgep. 141
Moral inference to the best explanationp. 141
Chapter summaryp. 149
Further readingp. 150
The reliability of our moral judgmentsp. 151
Acquiring moral concepts and exercising objectivityp. 151
Chapter summaryp. 168
Further readingp. 169
Epilogue: Challenges to moral epistemologyp. 171
Frege, Moore, and the definition of ˘immorality÷p. 171
Common-sense objections to non-cognitivismp. 180
The Frege-Geach problems: Semantics v. pragmaticsp. 182
Non-cognitivist forms of validityp. 186
Chapter summaryp. 193
Further readingp. 193
Glossary of philosophical termsp. 195
Notesp. 204
Works citedp. 219
Indexp. 241
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