I had a chat with Faraci recently. His dissertation is all about why intuitions are not so good when it comes to arguments in ethics. David has a few reasons for his position, and I suggested another way of arguing against intuitions.
Here are the important assumptions. Suppose we agree that ethics has all the features that Anscombe and people like her think they do. These include things like overridingness, universal application, and similar things. That is, the truth about ethics is not merely conventional or subjective. It is at least partially objective, or objective in some sense (the details don't matter that much, what matters is the thought that whatever the right ethical view turns out to be, it won't be conventional).
So, yes, we think this. Now we want to see whether or not intuitions are useful for establishing the content of our ethical views.
We know that, for instance, our mathematical and scientific intuitions are not always able to establish or get at the truth of math or science. There are other ways of establishing the truth, and it is curious, but not really useful, to find out that at least some people's intuitions get awfully close to the truth. We have other ways of figuring out what is true when it comes to science and math. Calculators settle the issue of what 12,222 multiplied by 17 is. What you intuit doesn't. Similarly with science.
If ethical intuitions are in the same category as scientific or mathematical intuitions, then this bodes ill for the role of intuitions in ethics. What we would need is an explanation for why ethical intuitions manage to capture "objective" facts, while our scientific and mathematical intuitions do not. We would need to do this while maintaining that intuitions are to ethics what calculators are to (some) math. This is probably a difficult task.
Intuitions, however, seem to be pretty useful when it comes to things like language. Whereas intuitions about math and science tend to fail, intuitions about language often get it right. One explanation for this is that language, unlike math and science, is purely conventional. The truth about what a word means, and what grammatical structure is correct hinges crucially on a complicated story about the in-practice use of language. Languages change, evolve, and are different in different areas. Provided you want to play the communicating game, you had better adhere to the local conventions about meaning.
The trouble for those of us who are keen on ethical intuitions is this:
1. Science and math are objective
2. Intuitions about these things fail
3. Language is conventional
4. Intuitions about language succeed
5. Ethical intuitions either capture the objective truth (and so we need to know why they get this whereas science and math intuitions fail) or;
6. Ethical intuitions capture the truth only if ethics is conventional (and so we have to abandon what we originally agreed to--namely, overridingness and universal applicability).
(A little note of clarification: I don't think that science is entirely objective, I'm just putting myself in the shoes of someone who would. Secondly, I'm not sure whether or not I think ethics is objective, or merely conventional. Probably conventional, but that's not the point of this post).