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Sidgwickian Ethics$
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David Phillips

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199778911

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199778911.001.0001

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Sidgwick's Moral Epistemology

Sidgwick's Moral Epistemology

(p.52) 3 Sidgwick's Moral Epistemology
Sidgwickian Ethics

David Phillips

Oxford University Press

In this Chapter I do three things: first, I focus on Sidgwick's argument for intuitionism and argue (a) contra Shaver that it is both crucial to Sidgwick and depends crucially on his nonnaturalism, and (b) that it is a powerful argument for intuitionism, though not directly for the form of foundationalism Sidgwick embraces. Then, second, I turn to (what I argue is) the central puzzle in his moral epistemology: the puzzle that Methods IV ii is in a crucial way apparently inconsistent with “The Establishment of Ethical First Principles” and with Methods III. I argue against resolving the puzzle in favor of the material in IV ii and thus taking Sidgwick to be (more of) a coherentist; and I suggest a resolution of the puzzle compatible with my foundationalist reading of Sidgwick. But I suggest that the puzzle is hard to resolve, and that, though previous commentators have not presented it fully, it helps explain the controversy over Sidgwick's moral epistemology. Third, I defend my favored moderate foundationalist interpretation of Sidgwick's moral epistemology.

Keywords:   epistemology, intuitionism, foundationalism, coherentism, Shaver

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