chapter  11
19 Pages

VIRTUE AND REASON: PROBLEM-SOLVING AND CLARIFICATION

Despite the Socratic exploration of the problem of moral knowledge in terms of certain analogies with technical skills in the early Platonic dialogues,2 the name of Plato springs nevertheless immediately to mind in relation to the first of these two models. In his mature works, Plato seems to be finally and irrevocably committed to a form of extreme moral realism which is the very epitome of the discovery model. Of course, he expressly denied that moral reality is accessible to human beings via ordinary empirical perception since there are not for him any clear instances of virtue, justice and so on to be observed

sensibly in the world of appearance. Thus Plato drove a metaphysical wedge between the world of experience in general and that of our ideas of it, between the phenomenal world of sensible perception and the intelligible world of rational reflection; only via initiation into a sort of intellectual-theoretical or super-scientific form of rational enquiry can a man hope to emerge from the dark cave of illusion and deception into the bright sunlight of absolute moral certainties.