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Wondering about meta-ethics today....



I've posted in various places lately an inquiry about contemporary ethical and meta-ethical inquiry. I'll post it again here.

Do my readers know of any scholar (preferably someone with academic cred, though not necessarily in a philosophy department) whose published positions enable us to describe him with each of the following four adjectives?

Cognitivist, intuitionist, consequentialist, pluralist.

It seems like a natural combination. As a cognitivist, our scholar would hold to a meta-ethics in which right and wrong, good and bad, are genuinely subjects for knowledge (not merely, say, for expressions of emotion).

As an intuitionist, he/she would believe that there exists some immediate , non-inferential, grasp of some datum at the base of our reasonings on the subject. I have in mind especially Moore's notion that the good is in some sense like the color yellow, a perception that neurologically normal folk can take for granted, so that we don't reason about whether yonder banana actually possesses this trait.

As a consequentialist, the suspect would combine this intuitive notion of the good with an inferential notion of right and wrong as a quality of actions. Because certain states of the world are good, it is right to act in certain ways to maximize them.

Finally, though, as a pluralist, our suspect would contend that there may be several distinct and somewhat conflicting right courses of action. Neither our intuitions under the second plank nor our reasonings under the third plank of this platform allow us to determine the One Right Way.

I believe that if I were asking this question about 20 years ago, whether there were any academically credentialed figure who deserved all four adjectives, a good answer would clearly be "Isaiah Berlin." But Berlin is long gone. So is John Rawls -- whose name was also offered to me in response to postings similar to this one in another forum -- aside from the fact that there is a lot of deontology in Rawls.

So we're back to the question: is there any such figure today?



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