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Intuition, Theory, and Anti-Theory in Ethics$
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Sophie Grace Chappell

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198713227

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198713227.001.0001

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Factual Mistakes, Epistemological Virtues, and Moral Errors

Factual Mistakes, Epistemological Virtues, and Moral Errors

A Study in Augustine’s Confessions

(p.127) 7 Factual Mistakes, Epistemological Virtues, and Moral Errors
Intuition, Theory, and Anti-Theory in Ethics

Catherine Rowett

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins from Augustine’s autobiographical reflections on errors of judgement made by himself and others in his youth. Using them, this chapter shows that doctrinal errors and mistaken beliefs about the world are deeply entwined with evaluative judgements, thereby undermining the traditional fact/value distinction. Furthermore, every kind of assent to factual or doctrinal claims involves a value judgement about the level of proof required for assent to be justified. We can be morally required to believe or to withhold belief. Scepticism can be a culpable refusal of trust. So moral understanding presupposes an epistemological virtue, which is itself subject to moral judgement.

Keywords:   Augustine, fact/value distinction, epistemological virtue, scepticism, trust

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