Henry Sidgwick’s Moral Epistemology


In this essay I defend the view that Henry Sidgwick’s moral epistemology is a form of intuitionist foundationalism that grants common-sense morality no evidentiary role. In §1, I outline both the problematic of The Methods of Ethics and the main elements of its argument for utilitarianism. In §§2-4 I provide my interpretation of Sidgwick’s moral epistemology. In §§5-8 I refute rival interpretations, including the Rawlsian view that Sidgwick endorses some version of reflective equilibrium and the view that he is committed to some kind of pluralistic epistemology. In§9 I contend with some remaining objections to my view.