Considered Judgements: Meaning, Community and Tradition

A.H. Vedder

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The method of reflective equilibrium (RE) and, subsequently, the method of wide reflective equilibrium (WRE) has been advocated as a device for theory acceptance in ethics, for the justification of moral beliefs and for testing the adequacy of conceptions of morality and of moral conceptions, respectively. In this article the role played by considered judgements or intuitions in (W)RE when applied to questions of conceptualisation is addressed. These judgements are mostly thought not to introduce a kind of objective normative basis to (W)RE. Furthermore, the alleged anti-foundationalist character of the method is often viewed as a virtue of the method. In this article, the author explains why it should rather be looked upon as a vice, at least when dealing with the application of (W)RE to questions of conceptualization. The author proposes to relate (W)RE to a view or theory of moral language and morality, which he provisionally calls a 'functional-contextual approach'. Connected to such an approach, (W)RE would be vested with an additional justificatory force. This would enhance its possibilities to be defended against allegations concerning its subjectivist taint. Persons named: Rawls, Daniels, Wittgenstein, Kovesi.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReflective equilibrium. Essays in Honour of Robert Heeger
EditorsW. van der Burg, T. van Willigenburg
Place of PublicationDordrecht, Boston, London
PublisherKluwer Academic Publishers
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)0792353048
Publication statusPublished - 1998


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