Why Companions in Guilt Arguments Won't Work

Philosophical Quarterly 64 (256):407-422 (2014)
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One recently popular strategy for avoiding the moral error theory is via a ‘companions in guilt’ argument. I focus on those recently popular arguments that take epistemic facts as a companion in guilt for moral facts. I claim that there is an internal tension between the two main premises of these arguments. It is a consequence of this that either the soundness or the dialectical force of the companions in guilt argument is undermined. I defend this claim via (i) analogy with philosophical debates concerning the indispensability of mathematical objects to natural science, and (ii) discussion of the ‘entanglement’ of epistemic concepts and moral concepts in deliberation. I conclude by proposing a positive view of what kind of argument must be used if moral error theories are to be successfully undermined.



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Christopher Cowie
Cambridge University

Citations of this work

If Nothing Matters.Guy Kahane - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):327-353.
Conceptions of Epistemic Value.Timothy Perrine - 2023 - Episteme 20 (2):213-231.
Rescuing Companions in Guilt Arguments.Richard Rowland - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (262):161–171.

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References found in this work

Values and Secondary Qualities.John McDowell - 1985 - In Ted Honderich (ed.), Morality and objectivity: a tribute to J.L. Mackie. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul. pp. 110-129.
Epistemic rationality as instrumental rationality: A critique.Thomas Kelly - 2003 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (3):612–640.
The Myth of Morality.Hallvard Lillehammer - 2004 - Mind 113 (452):760-763.
Spreading the world.Simon Blackburn - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 176 (3):385-387.
The error in the error theory.Stephen Finlay - 2008 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (3):347-369.

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