G. E. Moore’s Response to Skepticism
PHI 472/ Introduction to Metaphysics & Epistemology
October 20, 2012
Professor John Barker
G. E. Moore’s main contributions to philosophy were in the areas of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and philosophical methodology. In epistemology, Moore is remembered as a stalwart defender of commonsense realism. Rejecting skepticism on the one hand, and, on the other, metaphysical theories that would invalidate the commonsense beliefs of “ordinary people” (non-philosophers), Moore articulated three different versions of a commonsense- realist epistemology over the course of his career. According to data I researched Moore’s epistemological interest also motivated much of his metaphysical work, which to a large extent was focused on the ontology of cognition. In this regard, Moore was an important voice in the discussion of sense-data that dominated Anglo- American epistemology in the early twentieth century. In ethics, Moore is famous for driving home the difference between moral and non-moral properties, which he cashed-out in terms of the non-natural and the natural. Moore’s classification of the moral as non-natural was to be one of the hinges upon which moral philosophy in the Anglo- American academy turned until roughly 1960. Moore’s approach to philosophizing involved focusing on narrow problems and avoiding grand synthesis. His method was to scrutinize the meanings of the key terms in which philosophers expressed themselves while maintaining an implicit commitment to the ideals of clarity, rigor, and argumentation. This aspect of his philosophical style was sufficiently novel and conspicuous that many saw it as an innovation in philosophical methodology. Moore is widely acknowledged as a founder of analytic philosophy, the kind of philosophy that has dominated the academy in Britain and the United States since roughly the 1930s. Moore also had a significant influence outside the academic...
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