Reflective equilibrium: Justification without intuitions

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Does the method of reflective equilibrium (henceforth, RE) involve ethical intuitions? If not, what are the so-called “considered judgments” invoked at the beginning of the process of reflective equilibrium? Contrary to the principal tendency in moral and political philosophy, I provide a negative answer to the first question. I hold that ethical intuitions are non-inferential beliefs. I then claim that RE does not involve ethical intuitions because its coherentist character rejects, by definition, any type of non-inferentiality. Concerning the second question above, I provide an answer that preserves the epistemological consistency of RE: considered judgments should be defined as inferential beliefs. The possibility of their inferential character relies on the role of background beliefs in the process of reflective equilibrium. In brief, I criticise and reformulate the standard interpretation of RE by claiming that it does not involve ethical intuitions but only inferential beliefs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number187576
Pages (from-to)39-54
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Coherentism
  • Considered judgments
  • Foundationalism
  • Intuitions
  • Justification
  • Reflective equilibrium


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