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Hypothetical Consent in Kantian Constructivism*

  • Thomas E. Hill (a1)

Epistemology, as I understand it, is a branch of philosophy especially concerned with general questions about how we can know various things or at least justify our beliefs about them. It questions what counts as evidence and what are reasonable sources of doubt. Traditionally, episte-mology focuses on pervasive and apparently basic assumptions covering a wide range of claims to knowledge or justified belief rather than very specific, practical puzzles. For example, traditional epistemologists ask “How do we know there are material objects?” and not “How do you know which are the female beetles?” Similarly, moral epistemology, as I understand it, is concerned with general questions about how we can know or justify our beliefs about moral matters. Its focus, again, is on quite general, pervasive, and apparently basic assumptions about what counts as evidence, what are reasonable sources of doubt, and what are the appropriate procedures for justifying particular moral claims.

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John Rawls , “Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory,” Journal of Philosophy 77, no. 9 (1980): 515–72

Onora O'Neill , Towards justice and Virtue: A Constructive Account of Practical Reasoning (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996)

David O. Brink , Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)

Thomas E. Hill Jr., Respect, Pluralism, and Justice: Kantian Perspectives (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), chaps. 2, 4, 8.

Thomas Pogge describes in his paper, “Is Kant's Rechtslehre Comprehensive?Southern Journal of Philosophy 36, supplement (1997): 161–87

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Social Philosophy and Policy
  • ISSN: 0265-0525
  • EISSN: 1471-6437
  • URL: /core/journals/social-philosophy-and-policy
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