Rationality and the Good: Critical Essays on the Ethics and Epistemology of Robert Audi

By Mark Timmons; John Greco et al. | Go to book overview

Preface

Very Brief Overview

For more than thirty years, Robert Audi has been one of the most creative and influential philosophical voices on a broad range of topics in the fields of ethics, epistemology, philosophy of mind and action, and philosophy of religion. This volume features thirteen chapters by renowned scholars plus new writings by Audi. Each paper presents both a position of its author and a critical treatment of related ideas of Audi’s, and he responds to each of the other contributors in a way that provides a lively dialogue on the topic.

The book begins with an introduction by Audi that presents a thematic overview of his philosophy and connects his views in ethics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind and action. Each of the thirteen chapters that follow concentrates on one or another of these three main areas. The chapters are followed by Audi’s replies. The exchanges between Audi and his critics in any one of the areas provides ample material for seminar discussions or researches in that field.

Ethics. Audi is the leading contemporary proponent of moral intuitionism. His 2004 book, The Good in the Right, defends a systematic ethical theory that provides a moderate intuitionist account of moral justification and knowledge together with a conception of morality and its pluralist structure that combines elements from the moral philosophies of Ross and Kant. Part 1 of this volume, “Problems and Prospects for Intuitionist Ethics,” includes essays by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Roger Crisp, and Hugh J. McCann that challenge various key elements in Audi’s moral intuitionism, especially its epistemology. Sinnott-Armstrong challenges Audi’s distinction between “conclusions of reflection” and “conclusions of inference”—a distinction that plays an important role in Audi’s defense of moral intuitionism. Crisp raises problems about the bearing of actual and hypothetical disagreement on the plausibility of Audi’s intuitionism. McCann, though generally sympathetic to moral intuitionism, proposes to develop what may be described as a ‘conativist’ version of moral intuitionism that he presents as a corrective to the sort of ‘cognitivist’ view held by Audi.

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