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Document Details :
Title: Intuiting Moral Truth
Author(s): HOOSE, Bernhard
Journal: Louvain Studies
Volume: 35 Issue: 1-2 Date: 2011
In Veritatis splendor, John Paul II made reference to the participation of the practical reason in ethics. Working out the relationship between these two, notes Joseph Selling, is precisely the task of moral theology. This article asks what part, if any, is played in this relationship by intuition. Given the fact that there is a fair amount of confusion, however, it is important to clarify what precisely one means when one refers to intuition. Here the word is used to indicate immediate knowledge, or knowledge that is obtained without any process of reasoning from premises to a conclusion taking place. In the first half of the twentieth century, there was a good deal of debate about the role of intuition in ethics among philosophers who were members of the school of Intuitionism. Early in the second half of that century, however, Intuitionism went out of fashion. Since that time, little attention seems to have been given to the role of intuition in ethics by either philosophers or theologians, in spite of the fact that reasoned arguments about objective ethics always begin with some intuition or other, and some arguments against certain positions amount to nothing more than claims that they lead to conclusions which are counter intuitive. Reasoned argument and intuition, then, should not be seen as opponents. Both, it would seem, have essential roles to play. Access to both, however, can be impeded by ignorance, psychological and cultural conditioning, and structures of sin.