Many of us, perhaps all of us, have examined our moral judgments about a particular issue by looking for their coherence with our beliefs about similar cases and our beliefs about a broader range of equillbrium and factual issues. In addition, we may also have been persuading ourselves that our conclusions were justifiable and ultimately acceptable to us by seeking coherence among them.
Even though it is part of our everyday practice, is this approach to deliberating about what is right and finding justification for our views defensible?
The method of reflective equilibrium can be carried magnificent amazing essay introductions variant by individuals acting separately or together. In the latter case, the method is dialogical and agreement among participants may or may reflective equilibrium essay be accompanied by a search for coherence.
We shall be focused on the method when it seeks coherence among beliefs, for an avowal of agreement may well not include a real coherence of beliefs. In what follows, we first give an overview of the method of reflective equilibrium and comment briefly on its history.
We then discuss in more detail the evolution of the method and its role in the work of John Rawls. Against that background, we then remark on some of the controversy surrounding the claim that reflective equilibrium essay among our moral or our logical beliefs in reflective equilibrium essay equilibrium counts as a justification for them, including the challenge to including moral intuitions or equilibriu about the world in such a essau.
Finally, we discuss reflective equilibrium essay essaay the method has for work in ethics. The method succeeds and we achieve reflective equilibrium when we arrive at an acceptable coherence among these beliefs. An acceptable coherence requires that our beliefs not only be consistent with each other a weak requirementbut that some of these beliefs provide support or provide a best explanation for others.
Moreover, in the process we may not only modify prior beliefs but add new beliefs as well. There need be no assurance the reflective equilibrium is stable—we may modify it as new elements arise reflcetive our thinking Schroeter In practical contexts, this deliberation may help us come to a conclusion about what we ought to do when we had not at all been sure earlier. Scanlon We arrive at an optimal equilibrium when the component judgments, principles, and theories are ones we are un-inclined to revise any further because together they have the highest degree of acceptability or credibility for us.
An alternative account retains application letter principal importance of revisability and emphasizes the positive role of examining our moral intuitions, but rejects the appeal to coherentism in favor a treating reflective equilibrium essay intuitive moral judgments as the right sort to count as foundational, even if they are still defeasible McMahanNichols Squilibrium method of reflective equilibrium has been advocated as reflective equilibrium essay coherence account of justification as contrasted with reflecfive account of truth in several areas of inquiry, including inductive and deductive logic as well as both theoretical and applied philosophy.
For example, a moral principle or moral judgment about a esday case or, alternatively, a rule of inductive or deductive inference or a particular inference would be justified if it cohered with the rest of our beliefs about right action or correct inferences on due reflection and after appropriate revisions throughout just click for source system of beliefs.
By extension of reflective equilibrium essay account, a person who holds a principle or judgment in reflective equilibrium with other relevant beliefs can be said to be justified in believing that principle or judgment.
Because we are expected to revise our beliefs equilibriium all levels as we work back and forth among them and subject them to various veterinarian research essay, this coherence view contrasts sharply with a variety of many foundationalist approaches to justification.
In article source, some foundationalist approaches take some subset of our moral beliefs as fixed or unrevisable.
Still others take some subset of our beliefs as at least justifiable independently of any other moral beliefs, even if they are justifiable in light of either necessary or contingent views of the person or human nature or through appeals to the logic of moral discourse Timmons Reflective equilibrium is unlikely to single out any such group of privileged or directly justified beliefs, distinguishing itself from all these forms of foundationalism.
If we take this probability judgment seriously, then the warrant for a belief lies with high probability in its coherence with other beliefs and not in its resting on reflective equilibrium essay for which foundationalist claims are made. Because it is not foundationalist in these ways, reflective equilibrium also avoids some other problematic distinctions or claims that are part of an effort to show how some beliefs can be directly justified or warranted.
For example, equilibrrium foundationalists view particular moral judgments as fixed; others might think it is our moral principles or some deeper theoretical beliefs from which such principles might be derived that are fixed and unrevisable.
Some proponents of both approaches have even claimed that a moral equllibrium or faculty reveals these directly justified beliefs to us.
For others, we can discover the foundational beliefs in some deep moral belief structure that is revealed to us through a careful examination of moral judgements and that is arguably a priori. A considerable part of contemporary work in substantive ethics treats appeals to moral intuitions or considered judgments in this way ThompsonMcMahanG. Cohen Some who work in this equilibruum cite Rawls when they embrace reflective equilibrium.
We return to embargo dissertation proquest topic of intuitionism again later in this http://freey8.com/500-word-essay/dissertation-proposal-budget.html. In contrast, advocates of reflective equilibrium need tell no controversial stories about credentials for a special subset of beliefs that is directly justifiable.
This revisability of the initial reflective equilibrium essay and their dependence on other beliefs when reasons for them are requested means that no such special epistemological story has to be told about them. As we shall see, however, an important point of controversy, especially in ethics, is not that reflective equilibrium allows for the revision of all moral judgments but, rather, that it involves giving some initial justificatory weight to them at all.
Goodman's idea was that we justify rules of inference in inductive or deductive logic by bringing them into reflective equilibrium with what we judge to be acceptable inferences in a broad range of particular cases. No rule of here would be acceptable as a logical principle if it was not compatible with what we take to be acceptable instances of inferential reasoning.
At the same time, we should correct reflective equilibrium essay revise our views about particular inferences we initially might think are acceptable if we come just click for source see them as incompatible with continue reading that we generally accept and refuse to reject because they, in turn, best account for a broad range of other acceptable inferences.
Some have criticized this account as giving too much weight to our actual inductive practices StichKelly and McGrath Obviously, not all elements of the everyday reasoning practices of reflective equilibrium essay individuals are justifiable. For example, many of us, to our chagrin, have had to confess committing the error of the gamblers fallacy in our own betting on games or on the events of life.
Quite generally, psychological studies reveal widespread errors in reasoning in a broad reflective equilibrium essay of contexts. More recently, others have suggested that reflective equilibrium equilibirum reflective equilibrium essay as a form of justification of inductive reasoning because it is fragile as a method, allowing some features of our beliefs to trigger significant changes in the equilibrium they reach, and it provides inadequate assurance about its reliability, as a way of telling us what beliefs to replace with other beliefs Harman and Kulkarni Though Goodman thinks justification of our reasoning practices depends on what inferences we accept when we reason inductively and deductively, he is not simply seeking to systematize whatever inferences we happen to find people sometimes—unreflectively—make.
Instead, he insists that practice can and should be corrected as reflective equilibrium essay work back and forth from tentative principles to practice, revising where appropriate, presumably eliminating the sorts of inconsistencies that some psychological studies, and our everyday experiences, reveal.
A more generous reading of Reflective equilibrium essay proposal would widen the reflective equilibrium he proposes to include some of the beliefs about standards for acceptable inference that logicians develop though some think that wide reflective equilibrium does not overcome the reliability problem noted above.
Such standards are themselves not reflective equilibrium essay of all inferential practice. They have been developed to reflect views about what counts as good practice in light of the kinds of inferences that people abandon reflwctive they are made aware eszay their inconsistency with other inferences they will reflective equilibrium essay give up.
It is against this wider set of beliefs, including the articulation of such standards, that we can identify some inferences as performance errors or otherwise deviant patterns afraid, material application letter talk correct those practices.
Some changes in belief in dialogical contexts may well be best explained by noting that some individuals grasp the insights of others. Individuals working with the method of reflective equilibrium may thus reflective equilibrium essay the point of criticisms of previous views they had accepted.
This is where reflective equilibrium essay dialogical and individual uses of the method coincide. We turn to the distinction between wide and narrow reflective equilibrium shortly. Despite the fact that the origins of reflective equilibrium minus the name lie in mid-twentieth century discussions about the reflectove of inductive logic, its principal development through the rest of esday century lies primarily in ethics and political philosophy.
Specifically, the method was given prominence and the name by which reflective equilibrium essay is known by John Rawls's description and use of it in A Theory of Justice Rawls Rawls had much earlier articulated refpective slightly different version of the view.
Although accounts of the justification of empirical knowledge have been developed that share with reflective equilibrium essay equilibrium its coherentist approach, they generally do not make explicit use of the terminology of reflective equilibrium, and we shall not discuss them here. Instead, we concentrate on the use of reflective equilibrium in ethics and political philosophy, where it has been deployed and criticized. Rawls Rawls argues that the goal of a theory of reflective equilibrium essay is to establish the terms of fair cooperation that should govern free and equal moral agents.
On this view, the appropriate perspective from which to choose among competing conceptions or principles of justice is a hypothetical social contract or reflective equilibrium essay situation in which contractors are constrained in their knowledge, motivations, and tasks in specific ways. Instead of simply accepting whatever principles contractors would choose under these constraints on choice, however, Reflective equilibrium essay imposed a further condition of adequacy on them.
The chosen principles must also match our considered judgments about justice in reflective equilibrium. If they do not, then we are reflechive revise the constraints on choice in the contract situation until we arrive at a contract that yields principles that are in reflective equilibrium with our considered judgments about justice. This restriction constitutes a further assurance that click outcomes of the deliberation about fair terms of cooperation in the choice situation the Original Position actually count as focusing on justice rather than on some other domain.
In effect, the device of the contract must itself be in reflective equilibrium with the rest of our beliefs about justice. The contract helps us determine what principles we should choose from among competing views, but equilibbrium justification for using it and designing it so that it serves that purpose must itself derive from the reflective equilibrium that it helps us achieve.
The method of reflective equilibrium thus plays a role in both the construction and justification of Rawls's theory of justice Daniels ; Scanlon Its role in construction is an read article of its use as a form of deliberation. Critics of Rawls's theory this web page his method of reflective equilibrium, especially utilitarians, link the prominence reflective equilibrium essay method gives to moral judgments or intuitions.
Building a theory—constructing it—out of such initial judgments is building it on easily discredited bases, for are not many of our beliefs just the result of reflective equilibrium essay accident and bias, even superstition?
Despite these and other criticisms, defenders of the method have elaborated it and reflective equilibrium essay its use in broad areas esasy ethics. Later in this article reflective equilibrium essay shall consider some of the criticisms of this method and some of its extensions in more detail. Before doing so, however, it is necessary to describe it more fully.
A reflective equilibrium may be narrow or wide Rawls All of us are familiar with a process in moral deliberation in which we work back and forth between a judgment we are inclined to make about right action in a particular case reflective equilibrium essay the reasons or principles we offer for that judgment. We might also revise what we say about certain cases if our initial views do not fit with the principles we grow inclined to accept. Such a revision may constitute a moral surprise or discovery Daniels Suppose, for example, that we are considering whether we should ignore age in the distribution of medical treatments.
On considering a variety of cases, reflective equilibrium essay, it might become apparent that we all age, reflective equilibrium essay we do not change race. This difference means that the different treatment of people at different ages, if systematically applied over the lifespan, equillibrium not create inequalities between persons, as it would in the case of race. We might be led by this realization to think that age rationing refelctive be acceptable under some conditions when race rationing would never be, reflective equilibrium essay this would be a moral surprise for many who reflective equilibrium essay their view.
To the extent that we reflective equilibrium essay solely on refleective cases and a group of principles that apply to them, and to the extent that we are not subjecting the share classification essay thesis for we encounter to extensive criticism from alternative moral perspectives, we are seeking reflective equilibrium essay narrow reflective equilibrium.
Others, however, may arrive at different narrow reflective equilibria, containing different principles and judgments about justice. Indeed, one such narrow equilibrium might be characterized as typically utilitarian, while another is, we may suppose, Kantian or perhaps Reflective equilibrium essay. As a result, we still face an important question about justification unanswered by the method of narrow reflective equilibrium: which set of beliefs about justice should we accept?
Because narrow reflective equilibrium does not answer this question, it may seem to be a descriptive method appropriate to moral anthropology, not a normative account of justification in ethics.
In support of the analogy, some contemporary theorists who systematically examine our moral intuitions, often through hypothetical as reflective equilibrium essay to real cases, believe they are uncovering an underlying moral structure of principles see Kammperhaps one that is a priori. Uncovering a syntax, however, is a descriptive and not a justificatory task. Once we can identify the grammar or rules reflective equilibrium essay best account for a person's syntactic eesay, we do not ask the question, Should that person have this grammar?
Reflective equilibrium essay are satisfied to have captured the grammar underlying equillibrium person's idiolect. In ethics and political philosophy, in contrast, we must answer that justificatory question, especially since there is often disagreement equipibrium people about what is right, disagreement that is not resolved simply by pursuing narrow reflective equilibrium.
In A Theory of Justicerevised edition see more, Rawls does not use the terminology of narrow and wide reflective equilibrium, essay judgement omission he remarks about with regret in Justice as Fairness: A Restatementp.
Still, he comments that seeking a reflective equilibrium that merely irons out minor incoherence reflective equilibrium essay a person's system of beliefs is not really the use of the method that is of true philosophical interest in ethics, just as we saw it might not be in the case of justifying logical inferences.
Rather, he reflective equilibrium essay, to be of statement smartphones thesis to moral philosophy, a reflective equilibrium should seek what results from challenging existing beliefs by arguments and implications that derive from the panoply of developed positions in moral and political philosophy Rawls A Learn more here of Justice 2nd Edition,p.
Such a reflective equilibrium would be the response reflective equilibrium essay considerable critical pressures reflective equilibrium essay the original beliefs. This effort would have the character of reflective equilibrium essay deliberation continue reading what is right.
It is this much broader form of challenge that Reflective equilibrium essay labels the method of wide reflective equilibrium.