Error Theory and the Concept of Morality

Metaphilosophy 44 (4):451-469 (2013)

Paul Bloomfield
University of Connecticut
Error theories about morality often take as their starting point the supposed queerness of morality, and those resisting these arguments often try to argue by analogy that morality is no more queer than other unproblematic subject matters. Here, error theory (as exemplified primarily by the work of Richard Joyce) is resisted first by arguing that it assumes a common, modern, and peculiarly social conception of morality. Then error theorists point out that the social nature of morality requires one to act against one's self-interest while insisting on the categorical, inescapable, or overriding status of moral considerations: they argue that morality requires magic, then (rightly) claim that there is no such thing as magic. An alternate eudaimonist conception of morality is introduced which itself has an older provenance than the social point of view, dating to the ancient Greeks. Eudaimonism answers to the normative requirements of morality, yet does not require magic. Thus, the initial motivation for error theory is removed
Keywords error theory  metaethics  queerness  morality  eudaimonia
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/meta.12041
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 44,283
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

View all 40 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Tale of a Moderate Normative Skeptic.Brendan Cline - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (1):141-161.
Teoria do Erro: uma avaliação crítica.Jaime Parera Rebello - 2017 - Veritas – Revista de Filosofia da Pucrs 62 (2):453.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Evolution and Error Theory.John Mizzoni - 2010 - Social Science Information 49 (2):165-194.
Errors Upon Errors: A Reply to Joyce.Stephen Finlay - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (3):535 - 547.
How to Be an Error Theorist About Morality.Simon Robertson - 2008 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 2 (2):107-125.
Morality, Schmorality.Richard Joyce - 2007 - In Paul Bloomfield (ed.), Morality and Self-Interest. Oxford University Press.
The Error In 'The Error In The Error Theory'.Richard Joyce - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (3):519-534.
Quasi-Realism and Fundamental Moral Error.Andy Egan - 2007 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2):205 – 219.
The Possibility of Morality.Phil Brown - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (3):627-636.
Moral Error Theory and the Argument From Epistemic Reasons.Richard Rowland - 2012 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 7 (1):1-24.


Added to PP index

Total views
126 ( #62,599 of 2,270,987 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
10 ( #94,657 of 2,270,987 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature