Knowledge of Goodness

Colin McGinn

in Ethics, Evil, and Fiction

Published in print June 1999 | ISBN: 9780198238775
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598005 | DOI:
 Knowledge of Goodness

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In this chapter, McGinn argues that ethical knowledge belongs to a distinct epistemological category from scientific knowledge. Pursuing an analogy with mathematics and modern linguistics, McGinn argues that ethical truths are a priori, innate truths, and in this respect ethics is at least as respectable as science; indeed, epistemologically, it is on a par with logic and mathematics. A key difference between science and ethics is that moral truth, unlike scientific truth, is not coercive. Therefore, moral truth has no pragmatic justification but is something we pursue for its own sake. McGinn concludes the chapter with the suggestion that our moral sensibility is a by‐product of our innate grasp of folk psychology.

Keywords: a priori; coercion; empiricism; epistemology; folk psychology; innate knowledge; moral truth; pragmatic justification

Chapter.  10622 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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