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Moral UnderstandingsA Feminist Study in Ethics$
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Margaret Urban Walker

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195315394

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195315394.001.0001

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The Example of Feminist Skepticism

Moral Understandings

Margaret Urban Walker

Oxford University Press

In an age of moral skepticism, moral philosophers are often casual about their own positions to represent moral life in societies segmented by gender, race, class, and other differences. Drawing on resources of feminist epistemology and naturalized epistemology, this chapter critiques a theoretical-juridical model of morality and defends an expressive-collaborative one sensitive to questions about epistemic authority, credibility, and claims to represent common moral thought and life. Intuitions are moral judgments we have learned in common with others, but which may be modified or relinquished in a process of moral reasoning that involves analogy and narrative. Reflective equilibrium is recast as a moral equilibrium among persons sustaining moral understandings and mutual intelligibility in a shared and stable way of life they can find valuable. A key critical method is thus testing for transparency the actual arrangements of power and authority that hold moral understandings in place.

Keywords:   epistemic authority, expressive-collaborative model, feminist epistemology, moral skepticism, moral judgment, intuitions, moral justification, naturalized epistemology, reflective equilibrium, theoretical-juridical model

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