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Avoiding the Regress Problem for Moral Uncertainty Principles
November 22, 2019
Michael Bukoski (FSU)
People are often uncertain about what they morally ought to do, sometimes because they are uncertain about relevant moral facts or principles….… Moral uncertaintists argue that moral uncertainty of this sort makes a difference to what one morally ought to do; for example, perhaps someone who believes that raising and killing animals for food is probably permissible, but might be wrong, ought to “play it safe” by not eating meat. An objection to moral uncertaintism is that it leads to a problematic regress: if uncertainty about first-order moral principles justifies the existence of moral uncertainty principles describing what one ought to do in light of that uncertainty, then uncertainty about moral uncertainty principles would justify the existence of second-order moral uncertainty principles, and so on without end. I defend moral uncertaintism against this objection by rejecting one standard justification for moral uncertaintism—namely, the requirement that morality be action-guiding—and reconceiving moral uncertainty principles as ordinary components of moral theories to be justified alongside other moral principles and in the same (varied) ways. I also argue that this approach helps moral uncertaintism to avoid or overcome several other objections, such as that it requires impossible intertheoretic comparisons of moral value