Accounting for the Data: Intuitions in Moral Theory Selection
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Reflective equilibrium is often credited with extending the idea of accounting for the data from its familiar home in the sciences to the realm of moral philosophy. But careful consideration of the main concepts of this idea—the data to be accounted for and the kind of accounting it is appropriate to expect of a moral theory—leads to a revised understanding of the “accounting for the data” perspective as it applies to the discipline of moral theory selection. This revised understanding is in tension with reflective equilibrium and actually provides more support for the alternative method of moral theory selection that has been termed ‘practical equilibrium’.
KeywordsReflective equilibrium Practical equilibrium Intuitions Data
I would like to thank Dale Miller and two anonymous reviewers for this journal for their comments on previous versions of this article. Special thanks are due to one of the reviewers, who provided several sets of extensive comments. That reviewer is the reviewer mentioned in footnotes 2–4 of this article, but his or her comments were so detailed and constructive as to lead, in total, to beneficial revisions throughout this article.
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