Between Discovery and Decision: Winch’s Critique of the Universalizability of Moral Judgment Revisited

  • Takeshi Sato
Part of the Nordic Wittgenstein Studies book series (NRWS, volume 6)


The purpose of this paper is to reassess Winch’s argument on the universalizability of moral judgment. Although it may seem as if his argument has been superseded, in fact, on closer examination it presents a viewpoint which is missing from modern mainstream metaethics. I will first review Winch’s criticism of the universalizability thesis, then examine some responses to that criticism. Finally, I will reconsider Winch’s proposals from a different angle. Then it becomes clear that while the mission of mainstream metaethics is to establish the rationality of moral verdicts on choices, morality exists as well in other moments; such as those in which we discover and decide upon the moral self. If we miss these, we miss the full reality of the phenomenon. Contemporary metaethics still has much to learn from Winch’s fruitful discussion of these matters.


Universalisability Rationality Moral dilemmas Moral philosophy Meta-ethics 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takeshi Sato
    • 1
  1. 1.Kumamoto UniversityKumamotoJapan

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