The Possibility of Inductive Moral Arguments

  • Mark T Nelson


Is it possible to have moral knowledge? ‘Moral justification skeptics' hold it is not, because moral beliefs cannot have the sort of epistemic justification necessary for knowledge.  This skeptical stance can be summed up in a single, neat argument, which includes the premise that ‘Inductive arguments from non-moral premises to moral conclusions are not possible.' Other premises in the argument may rejected, but only at some cost. It would be noteworthy, therefore, if ‘inductive inferentialism' about morals were shown to be at least possible. Some philosophers may suppose that inductive moral arguments from non-moral premises cannot get off the ground, but I show that a perfectly legitimate inductive moral argument exists. This argument has non-moral premises and a moral conclusion, its premises are related to its conclusion in the right way, and it avoids some of the problems of other, better-known arguments from ‘Is' to ‘Ought'.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0556-8641