Perceptual Account Of Moral Knowledge Analysis

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2. McGrath’s Perceptual Account of Moral Knowledge In this section, I will first distinguish and consider different variants of moral perception. Then, I will make clear where McGrath’s distinctive account sits in the broader family of all moral perception views.
In general, moral perception views of moral knowledge reject P2 of the moral regress argument sketched in the preceding section. For proponents of moral perception, we get, at the very least, some of our moral knowledge non-inferentially through perception of the moral facts. The most plausible versions of moral perception refrain from making the much stronger thesis that all of our moral knowledge is justified non-inferentially through perception. If the stronger thesis were true,
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Before I give the hurdles, note that both of the concerns I will present are for general theory-laden perception. As moral theory-laden perception is just a special case of the general theory, both concerns still hold in the moral domain. First, theory-laden perception, just like the moral sense organ hypothesis, is a bold, empirical conjecture. I take it that we don’t normally, in ordinary discourse, think that cognition penetrates perception. If I believe the sky is red and gaze upwards, I won’t see a red sky. But, as I noted earlier, theory-laden perception is committed exactly to this unpalatable consequence. Perhaps the issue is that I, like most functional adults, find it practically impossible to believe that the sky is red. So, instead consider someone who had never been outside, who’s never been told or taught that the sky is blue. One day, we tell him that the sky is red. He, unlike us, actually thinks and believes that the sky is red. Now, the question is, when he looks up, does he see a red sky or a blue sky? The intuitive answer is that he would see a blue sky, not a red sky, contrary to the answer we would expect if theory-laden perception were true. As this thought experiment demonstrates, we need empirical support before we can accept the surprising truth of theory-laden …show more content…
If theory-laden perception is true, then one is justified to any wacky, heterodox, and wrong belief just in case one started with that wacky mistaken belief. Such a result is utterly undesirable, both with non-moral beliefs and moral beliefs. It’s not that I desire justification to be factive, that is for truth to be necessary for justification. I agree with the conventional wisdom in the literature that justification is non-factive, that justification is fallible. Rather, my point is that whatever process someone proposes as the process of justification should attempt or try to track truth. However, justification by theory-laden perception doesn’t remotely track truth, it actually allows any belief to be justified if it penetrates cognition, i.e. anything goes. Here’s an example from the moral domain to make clear why letting anything go in terms of justification is problematic. Assume that moral theory-laden perception is true. Consider Tom, who grew up in a rainforest, isolated from civilization, who truly has the belief that murdering for fun is morally permissible. When he comes swinging out of the rainforest and kills someone with his machete, he is justified in believing that what he did was morally permissible as long as his belief that murder is morally permissible penetrates his moral perception. But,

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