Ethical intuitionism

Traditionally, intuitionism was often understood as having several other commitments:

Robert Audi (2004, Ch. 1) points out that in applied ethics, philosophers frequently appeal to intuitions to justify their claims, even though they do not call themselves intuitionists. Audi hence uses the label "intuitivists" to refer to people who are intuitionists without labeling themselves as such.

Some use the term "ethical intuitionism" in moral philosophy to refer to the general position that we have some non-inferential moral knowledge (see Sinnott-Armstrong, 2006a and 2006b)—that is, basic moral knowledge that is not inferred from or based on any proposition. However, it is important to distinguish between empiricist versus rationalist models of this. Some, thus, reserve the term "ethical intuitionism" for the rationalist model and the term "moral sense theory" for the empiricist model (see Sinnott-Armstrong, 2006b, pp. 184–186, especially fn. 4). However, the terminology is not ultimately important, so long as one keeps in mind the relevant differences between these two views.

Regardless of one's definition of rational intuition, intuitionists all agree that rational intuitions are not justified by inference from a separate belief.

Another version—what one might call the empiricist version—of ethical intuitionism models non-inferential ethical knowledge on sense perception. This version involves what is often called a "moral sense". According to moral sense theorists, certain moral truths are known via this moral sense simply on the basis of experience, not inference.