© 2018

Moral Certainty and the Foundations of Morality


  • Offers a new perspective and a rigorously argued case for the place of basic moral certainty at the foundation of our human moralities

  • Argues that some of our foundational basic moral certainties are universal in scope, that is are held by all functioning moral agents

  • Pushes for a new understanding of the source of our moral thinking, by introducing the notion of ‘primary recognition’


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Neil O’Hara
    Pages 1-21
  3. Neil O’Hara
    Pages 23-52
  4. Neil O’Hara
    Pages 53-91
  5. Neil O’Hara
    Pages 93-116
  6. Neil O’Hara
    Pages 117-153
  7. Neil O’Hara
    Pages 155-190
  8. Neil O’Hara
    Pages 191-197
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 199-203

About this book


What lies at the foundation of our moral beliefs? If we dig down far enough do we find that our moral values have no ground at all to stand on, and so are apt to collapse upon serious philosophical investigation? This book seeks to answer these and related questions by positing an indubitable foundation for our moral beliefs – they arise from the phenomenon of ‘primary recognition’, and are fundamentally shaped by ‘basic moral certainties’. Drawing on philosophers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein and Knud Ejler Løgstrup, this book draws together insights from both Analytic and Continental philosophy to provide a convincing new picture of our moral foundations. And it does so in a way that eschews moral conservativism and opens the way for a rich understanding of the variety and particularity of our human moral systems, while also keeping a significant place for those moral beliefs that occur universally, across cultures.


morality certainty primary recognition metaethics rationality

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Independent ScholarLutonUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Neil O’Hara has been Visiting Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire,UK, where he completed his PhD. His primary research concerns metaethics, the latter Wittgenstein, and the moral philosophy of Knud Ejler Løgstrup.

Bibliographic information