Ethical Intuitionism

  • W. D. Hudson
Part of the New Studies in Ethics book series


Ethical intuitionism is here taken to be the view that normal human beings have an immediate awareness of moral values. Our approach to the subject will be through a study of some of its classical exponents in British philosophy. Some of these have contended that the awareness in question can only be conceived satisfactorily as a form of sense-perception. Shaftesbury and Hutcheson will be our sources for this ‘moral sense’ view. Others have argued that it is his reason, or understanding, which gives man this awareness. As examples of this view, we shall take Cud- worth, Clarke, Balguy, and Price. The working out of these two points of view — sometimes differentiated as sentimentalism and intellectualism, sometimes as aesthetic and rational intuitionism — and the debate between their respective adherents dominated moral philosophy in Britain throughout the eighteenth century. Because he seems to have occupied a bridge position between the two points of view, Butler will serve us as an additional source.


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© W. D. Hudson 1974

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