Believing falsely makes it so

Mind 115 (460):833-866 (2006)
that there is something rationally or conceptually defective in judging that an act is right without being in any way motivated towards it—is one which has tended to lead either to error theories of ethics on the one hand, or acceptance of the truth of internalism on the other. This paper argues that it does play a kind of subject-setting role, but that our responses to cases can be rationalised without requiring that internalism is true for ethical realism to be vindicated. Instead what is required is that something like internalism be believed to be true. The widespreadness of the internalist intuition is part of what makes it the case that some actions are right and others wrong. Of course these beliefs might be false—as the present author holds—consistent with ethical realism, just so long as they are widely held, and whatever else it takes to vindicate realism is the case. In such a situation, widespread false belief would be part of what makes it so that some acts are right, and others wrong.
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DOI 10.1093/mind/fzl833
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