Obvious Objections

Michael Ridge, Sean McKeever

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


People often say that some normative ethical theory, act consequentialism perhaps, faces some objection based on ‘obvious intuitions’. It is also sometimes said—e.g. by Bernard Williams—that a theory like act consequentialism can make some things too obvious; can make obvious things that aren’t obvious but deeply morally problematic and troubling even if correct. Ridge and McKeever agree that objections of Williams’ sort can sometimes have some weight; but how much weight, and how often? They remind us that the anti-theorist’s deeper aim is often to insist on the subtlety and variety of the moral landscape. But, the more subtle and variable the moral landscape can be, the less sure we can be that we know which cases truly are the ‘hard ones’. And if we cannot be confident which cases are hard, then we cannot have strong reason to reject a theory for miscategorizing hard cases.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntuition, Theory and anti-Theory
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)978-0-19-871322-7
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2015


  • intuitions
  • normative ethical theory
  • obvious
  • act consequentialism
  • Bernard Williams


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