Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 131–147 | Cite as

The Meta-Justification of Reflective Equilibrium



The paper addresses the possibility of providing a meta-justification of what appears to be crucial epistemic desiderata involved in the method of reflective equilibrium. I argue that although the method of reflective equilibrium appears to be widely in use in moral theorising, the prospects of providing a meta-justification of crucial epistemic desiderata are rather bleak. Nor is the requirement that a meta-justification be provided obviously misguided. In addition, I briefly note some of the implications of these results for our use of the method of reflective equilibrium and for the best interpretation of the method.

Key words

reflective equilibrium meta-justification moral theorising moral epistemology coherentism foundationalism 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Audi, R., Moderate Intuitionism and the Epistemology of Moral Judgment, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 1 (1) (1998), pp. 15-44.Google Scholar
  2. BonJour, L., The Dialectic of Foundationalism and Coherentism, in John Greco and Ernest Sosa (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to Epistemology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1999, pp. 117-142Google Scholar
  3. BonJour, L., The Structure of Emprical Knowledge. Cambridge, Mass.,: Harvard University Press, 1985.Google Scholar
  4. Brandt, R.B, A Theory of the Good and the Right. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979.Google Scholar
  5. Brink, D., Moral Realism and the Foundation of Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.Google Scholar
  6. Dancy, J., Contemporary Epistemology, Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1985Google Scholar
  7. Daniels, N., Wide Reflective Equilibrium and Theory Acceptance in Ethics, Journal of Philosophy 76 (1979), pp. 256-82.Google Scholar
  8. Daniels, N., Justice and Justification. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
  9. Goodman, N., Fact, Fiction, and Forecast. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press 1955.Google Scholar
  10. Kagan, S., Normative Ethics. Boulder & Oxford: Westview Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  11. Kappel, K., Challenges to Audi’s Ethical Intuitionism, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 5 (4) (2002), pp. 391-413Google Scholar
  12. Rawls, J., A Theory of Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  13. Sayre-McCord, G., Coherentist Epistemology and Moral Theory, in Walter Sinnott-Armstrong & Mark Timmons (eds.), Moral Knowledge?. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996, pp. 137-189.Google Scholar
  14. Scanlon, T.M., Rawls on Justification, in Samuel Freeman (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Rawls. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.Google Scholar
  15. Tersman, F., Reflective Equilibrium. Stockholm: Alquist & Wiksell International, 1993.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyInstitute of University of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

Personalised recommendations