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Mill, Intuitions, and Normativity

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>03/2013
Issue number01
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)46-65
<mark>Original language</mark>English


It is the purpose of this paper to offer an account of Mill’s metaethics, byexpanding on clues given recently by Dale Miller, and previously by JohnSkorupski, to the effect that, when it comes to the foundations of hisphilosophy, Mill might share more with the intuitionists than we areaccustomed to think. Common wisdom holds that Mill had no time forthe normativity of intuitions. I wish to dispute, or at least temper, thisdogma, by claiming that Mill’s attitude towards intuitions is far morecomplex and ambivalent than is generally thought. The investigation,then, centres on the question of whether, for Mill, intuitions carrynormative warrant: whether, in itself, the fact that a belief is intuitionalprovides reason to think that belief a warranted one. I argue that,according to Mill, our belief in the reliability of inductive moves andapparent memories, as well as the desirability of pleasure, is vindicated bysomething akin to intuition. Although his endorsement of the normativityof these intuitions might seem to be in tension with the arguments heoffers against the ‘intuitionist school’, this tension is only apparent.