Daoist Metaethics

Journal of Value Inquiry 53 (2):309-324 (2019)

Authors
Jason Dockstader
University College, Cork
Abstract
This paper seeks to show how classical Chinese Daoist philosophy (道家) contributes to contemporary metaethics. Daoism offers an early form of moral error theory and provides unique suggestions for what one can do with a false discourse like morality. Recent error theorists have disagreed about whether they should conserve moral discourse (moral conservationism), retain it only as a useful fiction (revolutionary moral fictionalism), substitute it with a discourse concerned with subjective normative attitudes (moral substitutionism), or abolish it altogether (assertive moral abolitionism). In Daoist texts, I argue, we find unique versions of abolitionism and fictionalism that go a long way to resolving debates between error theorists. They can do so because the motivation Daoists have for holding their metaethical views is primarily therapeutic. I argue Daoism offers a nonassertive kind of moral abolitionism and a reactionary form of moral fictionalism as means toward the achievement of tranquility and joy.
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DOI 10.1007/s10790-018-9670-9
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