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Title: Conscience and the Foundations of Morality in Ockham's Metaethics
Author(s): EARDLEY, Peter S.
Journal: Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie Médiévales
Volume: 80    Issue: 1   Date: 2013   
Pages: 77-108
DOI: 10.2143/RTPM.80.1.2988829

Abstract :
William of Ockham seems to ground morality in two distinct ways. At times he suggests that moral norms have their foundation in the will of God, and at times that what makes an act right or wrong is its conformity to right reason (recta ratio), suggesting that morality is actually grounded in a standard that is independent of the divine will. In contrast to those who argue that this represents a contradiction in Ockham’s metaethics, I argue that these twin pillars can be reconciled so long as one recognizes that right reason is subordinate to the divine will. I go on to argue that a careful examination of Ockham’s notion of conscience, and particularly the state of invincible ignorance, can serve to illuminate what is motivating Ockham’s curious metaethics.

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