Saturday, September 19, 2009

The moral intuitions of Attila the Hun

Victor Reppert keeps appealing to his moral intuitions to verify or falsify a revelation claimant and/or the interpretation thereof.

There are three basic problems with this appeal:

1.He oscillates back and forth between the interpretation of a revelatory claimant and the verification of a revelatory claimant. Yet these are not interchangeable propositions. In principle, you could have:

i) A true interpretation of a false revelatory claimant

ii) A false interpretation of a true revelatory claimant

iii) A true interpretation of a true revelatory claimant

iv) A false interpretation of a false revelatory claimant

To what does moral intuition apply? Is it Reppert’s contention that his moral intuition is sufficiently discriminating to adjudicate all four cases?

2.He also acts as if moral intuition is the only criterion to verify or falsify a revelatory claimant. Does he really think that’s the only line of evidence for or against a revelatory claimant?

3.Finally, I have to wonder if he’s ever asked himself what his moral intuitions would be telling him right now had he been born a Viking or Aztec priest or Samurai swordsman or Spartan soldier or Prussian general or Assyrian warrior or Iroquois brave.

His ethnocentric appeal to moral intuition strikes me as hopelessly provincial.


  1. And what beliefs based on special revelation would you accept if you were born in Saudi Arabia?

    You are proposing the Outsider Test for Moral Intuitions. Loftus would be so proud of you. :)

    And remember, one of my central claims is that my moral intuition have been affected by my Christian beliefs and, indeed, by Scripture. So you have a candidate exegesis which is mediated from Scripture through a human and fallible exegete, and you have a belief that something would be wrong for God to do, which was mediated from Scripture through my moral intuitions. While the latter sort of belief might yield to the former, depending on the strength of the exegetical evidence vs. the strength of the moral evidence, I don't think you have a general principle that one ought to yield to the other in every case.

  2. A valuable post on Intuition

    Karim - Mind Power