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Title: Knowledge and morality
Author: Adamson, H. M.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2011
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This dissertation explores how we know moral truths, and argues for three principal conclusions. The first is that Edward Craig’s hypothesis about what the concept of knowledge does for us explains why knowledge—both of moral and non-moral truths—typically must be reached in certain ways. Second, that experience of the world is an important route to moral knowledge. Third, that someone can have moral knowledge even when they cannot articulate a reason to defend it. Chapter I examines recent work by Quassim Cassam on ‘ways of knowing’. I propose some emendations to Cassam’s account and raise questions: what is the relationship between ways of knowing and the concept of knowledge? Are there tests for sorting good from bad ways of knowing? Chapter II gives a ‘normative’ definition of justification, and it is explained how that coheres with the account of ways of knowing. In Chapter III, I discuss the relationship between ways of knowing and the concept of knowledge, using Edward Craig’s work Knowledge and the State of Nature. I believe we can give a genealogical rationale for being interested in ways of knowing. Chapter IV is concerned exclusively with moral epistemology. I give a brief summary of four central positions in the history of the subject, couched in ways of knowing terminology: intuitionism, rationalism, sentimentalism and an Aristotelian perceptualism. I then attempt to arbitrate between the theories, giving three examples I argue that none of the four theories individually capture the complexity of the examples. In Chapter V I ask what must be true of moral experience if it is to be justificatory. I discuss John McDowell’s Mind and World, which says if experience is to be justificatory of any beliefs it must have articulable conceptual content. I argue against conceptualism, mainly on the grounds that experience can be justificatory despite failing to provide a subject with an articulable reason, and give two more examples.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available