The foundationalist argument for intuitionism



[Below is an extract from Roger Crisps’ book Reasons and the Good. But I have slightly reworded assumptions (1) and (3).]


The ‘standard’ argument for what one might call normative intuitionism (that is, intuitionism about normative reasons for action) makes three assumptions:


(1)  Foundationalism: Epistemically justified beliefs are either justified through some kind of direct perception or apprehension or rest essentially on inferences from beliefs justified in this way.

(2)  Normative Non-Scepticism: Beliefs as to what we have reason to do may be justified.

(3)  The Autonomy of Normativity: A normative conclusion about what we have reason to do can only be validly inferred from premises which include a premise about what we have reason to do.


From these assumptions one may conclude that any justified normative belief must be either justified in itself through some kind of direct apprehension or perception or inferred from some such belief. One natural term for such apprehension is ‘intuition’.


I am inclined to accept some form of the standard argument; but explicating and defending these assumptions would be a large task.



Crisp, R. 2006. Reasons and the Good. Oxford: Clarendon Press.