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If knowledge implies justified belief, as is traditionally supposed, then skepticism about justified moral belief implies skepticism about moral knowledge. However, even if knowledge does require justified belief, it does not require only justified belief, so skepticism about moral knowledge does not imply skepticism about justified moral belief.

What such practical moral skeptics deny is that I always have reason to do what is morally required. In other words, they deny that I always have reason not to do what is morally wrong. These claims are equivalent because it is morally wrong not to do what is morally required. Practical moral skeptics do not deny that there is sometimes reason not do what is morally wrong. After all, some wrongdoers are caught and punished. However, practical moral skeptics can still deny that there is always reason to do what is morally required or to avoid what is morally wrong.

Is there a practical moral skepticism, of the latter kind in the 2nd quote, that's skepticism about the truth of reasons for being moral?

So that we're justified in saying that everyone should always be moral, yet this claim isn't true. I think this would mean that, in practice, morality is justified but grounded (?) in something like a lie.

Seems possible, maybe even that realising that moral behaviour can be based on a lie is, in some sense, an important existential moment, that e.g. should not be done away with

  • What do you mean by "truth of reasons"? That the reasons aren't very good, or that, while good, they stem from something false? In either case consider rephrasing; it's not obvious that a "reason for" something can be true or false instead of just good or bad. – Canyon Jan 18 '17 at 22:49
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    We know that moral behavior can be based upon a lie. The problem (for Nietzsche) is whether moral behavior must be based upon a lie in order for morality not to become so complex it is intractable. "We possess Art lest we perish of Truth." (As to the last point, surely stories like Santa Claus arise and are maintained for a reason. Perhaps the reason is to tell this fact as a parable without ever admitting it is true.) – user9166 Jan 18 '17 at 23:24
  • So you're saying: suppose you know X to be true. Is it moral to behave as though X were false? Of course, it might be moral to keep the knowledge of X from others, but that's different from basing your morality on the assumption X is false. – barrycarter Jan 19 '17 at 15:30
  • @Canyon the difference between justified belief about why we should be moral and knowledge. i'm suprised this hasn't come up – user6917 Jan 19 '17 at 15:55
  • @MATH: No, it has, but calling a reason for a belief true or false strikes me as a category error. It's the belief itself that is true or false. In any case your question seems to boil down to: can we have reasonable yet false beliefs about morality in the same way that we can everything else? Is that right? – Canyon Jan 20 '17 at 15:48

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