The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 113, Issue 7, July 2016

Knut Olav Skarsaune
Pages 346-357

Moral Deference and Authentic Interaction

The article defends a mild form of pessimism about moral deference, by arguing that deference is incompatible with authentic interaction, that is, acting in a way that communicates our own normative judgment. The point of such interaction is ultimately that it allows us to get to know and engage one another. This vindication of our intuitive resistance to moral deference is upheld, in a certain range of cases, against David Enoch’s recent objection to views that motivate pessimism by appealing to moral autonomy or understanding. Enoch is right to point out that the value of autonomy or understanding cannot provide reason not to defer, if deferring would reduce the risk of treating others wrongly. But in the kind of case where we would want other people to act authentically towards us, even at the cost of a greater risk of wrongdoing, we should do the same towards them.