Ethical Realism

May 31, 2011

Three Forms of Evidence

An argument uses premises to reach a conclusion, but we can’t just accept that every valid argument proves the conclusion to be true. If an argument has a valid form, we need to know that the premises are true before we can know the conclusion is true. We rarely know for certain that the premises of an argument are true. Instead, we do our best at justifying the premises. One way to do this is to provide evidence—reasons we should believe something to be likely true or accurate. Many people equate “evidence” with “observation,” but there could be other reasons to accept beliefs as well. I will discuss three types of evidence: (more…)

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April 20, 2011

Three Types of Intuitive Arguments

Our arguments depend on assumptions. We prefer these assumptions to be intuitive and coherent with our other justified beliefs rather than counterintuitive and incompatible with our other justified beliefs. We might not be able to fully explain how we know “1+1=2” but we find it to be an intuitive belief, and we think it’s absurd (and perhaps incoherent) to deny that it’s true. Intuitive arguments are not only very common in philosophy, but it’s possible that all our justifications are grounded in intuition in one way or another. (more…)

March 31, 2011

Arguments for Intuition

Philosophers often discuss what beliefs are intuitive or counterintuitive to support their conclusions. I will argue that we should prefer theories and beliefs that are intuitive or sensitive to our intuitions rather than ones that aren’t.1 The fact that a theory or belief is intuitive isn’t conclusive proof and a theory or belief being counterintuitive isn’t a conclusive refutation, but it is one important element when evaluating the plausibility of a theory or belief. Intuitive beliefs range from things we know with high degrees of confidence—such as “at least two people exist”—to beliefs that are merely plausible enough to take seriously as possibly true. When a theory isn’t intuitive, then we call it counterintuitive, absurd, or revisionistic. I will argue that, all else equal, we should prefer that our theories are intuitive rather than revisionistic for at least the following three reasons: (more…)

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