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Perceptual Intuitionism



In the recent metaethical literature there has been significant interest in the prospects for what I am denoting ‘Perceptual Intuitionism’: the view that normal ethical agents can and do have non-inferential justification for first-order ethical beliefs by having ethical perceptual experiences, e.g., Cullison 2010, McBrayer 2010, Vayrynen 2008. If true, it promises to constitute an independent a posteriori intuitionist epistemology, providing an alternative to intuitionist accounts which posit a priori intuition and/or emotion as sources of non-inferentially justified ethical beliefs. As it is formulated, it is plausible that a necessary condition for the view is the truth of Ethical Perception: normal ethical agents can and do have perceptual experiences (at least some of which are veridical) as of the instantiation of ethical properties. In this paper a sophisticated and promising account of Ethical Perception is offered. Extant objections are shown to fail. However, it will be argued that it is far from obvious that the account of Perceptual Intuitionism which emerges constitutes an independent alternative to other intuitionist accounts. This is because we have reason to think that ethical perceptual experience may be epistemically dependent on other epistemic sources, e.g. a priori intuition or emotion.