Expertise, Wisdom and Moral Philosophers: A Response to Gesang

6 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2012

Date Written: July 2012


In a recent issue of Bioethics, Bernard Gesang asks whether a moral philosopher possesses greater moral expertise than a non‐philosopher, and his answer is a qualified yes, based not so much on his infallible access to the truth, but on the quality of his theoretically‐informed moral justifications. I reject Gesang's claim that there is such a thing as moral expertise, although the moral philosopher may well make a valid contribution to the ethics committee as a concerned and educated citizen. I suggest that wisdom is a lot more interesting to examine than moral expertise. Again, however, moral philosophers have no monopoly on wisdom, and the study of philosophy may even impede its cultivation.

Keywords: moral expertise, justification, wisdom, civic duty

Suggested Citation

Cowley, Christopher, Expertise, Wisdom and Moral Philosophers: A Response to Gesang (July 2012). Bioethics, Vol. 26, Issue 6, pp. 337-342, 2012. Available at SSRN: or

Christopher Cowley (Contact Author)

University of Hertfordshire ( email )

Department of Humanities
Hertford Herts, SG13 8QF
United Kingdom

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