A perceptual model for the warrant of moral beliefs
In the last two chapters, I have been concerned with the rationality of moral inquiry. I argued that, although reflective equilibrium is better at rationally leading inquirers towards a moral theory than any of the alternative methods, it still falls short. The method of reflective equilibrium cannot adequately protect us from the sort of irrationality involved in naïveté. There is, however, a successor to reflective equilibrium, the method of balance and refinement, that can guarantee the rationality of moral inquiry, even for naïve inquirers. However, the sort of rationality at issue here is relatively weak. So, it remains possible that, even after employing this method, the inquirer’s moral beliefs will have merely the sort of rationality that comes from having an orderly, coherent structure to one’s beliefs. But a sophisticated madman’s beliefs might have such an orderly structure! Unless one following the method can hope for a bigger epistemic payoff, the method of balance and refinement deserves a lukewarm recommendation at best. And so we come to warrant. Can the method of balance and refinement guarantee that it will lead
us to warranted moral beliefs? If it can, then if we fall short of moral knowledge, it will be because, even though we have proceeded rationally and ended up with warranted beliefs, for all that, we will have had a streak of bad epistemic luck that has left us with false beliefs.