Convergence in Wide-Reflective Equilibrium: an indicator for objective moral truth?

Ellis, Weston (2016) Convergence in Wide-Reflective Equilibrium: an indicator for objective moral truth? [Abstract]

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How do we arrive at a set of moral beliefs that is accurate? John Rawls’s answer to this question is the method of wide-reflective equilibrium. Wide-reflective equilibrium is the process where an individual compares moral judgements about particular cases, moral principles, and moral theories to pick and choose a set that is coherent. It is unlikely that after an individual has completed wide-reflective equilibrium that they have found an objective moral truth, as there are a multitude of different coherent ethical belief sets that are all independently valid. This makes it difficult for the individual to say that their particular belief set is the accurate one. However if it were the case that a diverse population of people started with different belief sets, went through wide-reflective equilibrium, and ended up converging on a particular belief set, then we may have a better case for saying that we have an accurate ethical belief set. I argue that some types of convergence in wide-reflective equilibrium are evidence that we have found objective moral truth. The conjunction of convergence through wide-reflective equilibrium and the centrality of those beliefs provides some evidence that we have at least approximated a moral truth. This is because ‘central’ beliefs gain additional justification in an individual’s coherent belief set. ‘Central’ beliefs are beliefs whose denial would force the change or denial of other beliefs in a belief set. The justification provided by central beliefs is then compounded as we scale up intersubjective agreement provided by wide-reflective equilibrium. This explanation of convergence is then defended against a few plausible objections.

Item Type: Abstract
Created by Student or Faculty: Student
Uncontrolled Keywords: Rawls, ethics, epistemology
Subjects: Undergrad Research Symposium > Philosophy
Undergrad Research Symposium
Depositing User: Weston Ellis
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2016 16:18
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2016 16:18

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