McDowell, Williams, and Intuitionism

Jonathan Dancy

in Luck, Value, and Commitment

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199599325
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741500 | DOI:
McDowell, Williams, and Intuitionism

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This chapter focuses on Bernard Williams's ‘What does Intuitionism Imply?’ (1988). It considers the justice of certain complaints that he makes about the position he associates with John McDowell. The chapter first considers, and reject, McDowell's appeal to the analogy with secondary qualities in his ‘Values and Secondary Qualities’ (1985). The chapter then considers and defends McDowell's reply to John Mackie's complaint that objective values do not pull their own weight; I try to show the justice of McDowell's reply in a way that detaches it from any reliance on the dispositional conception of value. Finally, the chapter turns to Williams's attempts to show that the objectivity of moral values cannot be sustained within the constraints of McDowell's approach, because of various explanatory failures. The chapters argues that everything that needs to be explained can be explained, and that we should prefer a sort of optimism to a Williams-style pessimism. The chapter ends by considering whether Williams is right to think of McDowell as an intuitionist.

Keywords: objective; value; reason; disposition; colour; humour; fearfulness; John McDowell; Bernard Williams; intuitionism; no priority view; meriting; explanation

Chapter.  10103 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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