Social Philosophy and Policy

Research Article

WHAT DOES MORAL PHENOMENOLOGY TELL US ABOUT MORAL OBJECTIVITY?

Terry Horgana1 and Mark Timmonsa1

a1 Philosophy, University of Arizona

Abstract

Moral phenomenology is concerned with the elements of one's moral experiences that are generally available to introspection. Some philosophers argue that one's moral experiences, such as experiencing oneself as being morally obligated to perform some action on some occasion, contain elements that (1) are available to introspection and (2) carry ontological objectivist purport—that is, they purport to be about objective, in the world, moral properties or relations. In our article, we examine one version of this sort of argument that we call the “argument from phenomenological introspection.” Our investigation involves, first, clarifications of the various issues that are prominent in the argument from phenomenological introspection. We then proceed to argue that the argument from phenomenological introspection fails; that although one's moral experiences may carry ontological objectivist purport, whether they do or do not carry such purport is not something available to introspection. We call this claim of ours the “neutrality thesis”—the phenomenological data regarding one's moral experiences that is available to introspection is neutral with respect to the issue of whether such experiences carry ontological objectivist purport.

Footnotes

We wish to thank the other contributors to this volume, and its editors, for helpful comments. We are especially grateful for comments by Janice Dowell, Michael Huemer, Scott McDonald, Philip Pettit, David Shoemaker, and David Wong. We also benefited from comments from Robert Audi, Michael Gill, and Uriah Kriegel.

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