David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (5):499 - 513 (2007)
Moral anti-realism comes in two forms – noncognitivism and the error theory. The noncognitivist says that when we make moral judgments we aren’t even trying to state moral facts. The error theorist says that when we make moral judgments we are making statements about what is objectively good, bad, right, or wrong but, since there are no moral facts, our moral judgments are uniformly false. This development of moral anti-realism was first seriously defended by John Mackie. In this paper I explore a dispute among moral error theorists about how to deal with false moral judgments. The advice of the moral abolitionist is to stop making moral judgments, but the contrary advice of the moral fictionalist is to retain moral language and moral thinking. After clarifying the choice that arises for the moral error theorist, I argue that moral abolitionism has much to recommend it. I discuss Mackie’s defense of moral fictionalism as well as a recent version of the same position offered by Daniel Nolan, Greg Restall, and Caroline West. Then I second some remarks Ian Hinckfuss made in his defense of moral abolitionism and his criticism of “the moral society.” One of the worst things about moral fictionalism is that it undermines our epistemology by promoting a culture of deception. To deal with this problem Richard Joyce offers a “non-assertive” version of moral fictionalism as perhaps the last option for an error theorist who hopes to avoid moral abolitionism. I discuss some of the problems facing that form of moral fictionalism, offer some further reasons for adopting moral abolitionism in our personal lives, and conclude with reasons for thinking that abolishing morality may be an essential step in achieving the goals well-meaning moralists and moral fictionalists have always cherished.
|Keywords||Ethics John Mackie Metaethics Moral abolitionism Moral anti-realism Moral fictionalism Morality The error theory|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Simon Blackburn (1998/2000). Ruling Passions. Oxford University Press.
Richard Joyce (2001). The Myth of Morality. Cambridge University Press.
Simon Blackburn (1993). Essays in Quasi-Realism. Oxford University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Stephen Ingram (2015). After Moral Error Theory, After Moral Realism. Southern Journal of Philosophy 53 (2):227-248.
Michael Scott & Philip Brown (2012). Pragmatic Antirealism: A New Antirealist Strategy. Philosophical Studies 161 (3):349-366.
Matt Lutz (2014). The 'Now What' Problem for Error Theory. Philosophical Studies 171 (2):351-371.
François Jaquet & Hichem Naar (2016). Moral Beliefs for the Error Theorist? Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19:193-207.
Vuko Andrić (2015). The Ramifications of Error Theories About the Deontic. Acta Analytica 30 (4):429-445.
Similar books and articles
Frederik Kaufman (1992). Moral Realism and Moral Judgments. Erkenntnis 36 (1):103 - 112.
Simon Robertson (2008). How to Be an Error Theorist About Morality. Polish Journal of Philosophy 2 (2):107-125.
Graham Oddie & Dan Demetriou (2007). The Fictionalist's Attitude Problem. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (5):485 - 498.
Daniel Nolan, Greg Restall & Caroline West (2005). Moral Fictionalism Versus the Rest. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (3):307 – 330.
Joel Marks (2010). An Amoral Manifesto Part II. Philosophy Now (81):23-26.
Joel Marks (2010). An Amoral Manifesto Part I. Philosophy Now (80):30-33.
Fritz Allhoff (2009). The Evolution of the Moral Sentiments and the Metaphysics of Morals. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (1):97 - 114.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads296 ( #6,839 of 1,792,085 )
Recent downloads (6 months)17 ( #47,136 of 1,792,085 )
How can I increase my downloads?