Abolishing Morality

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (5):499-513 (2007)
Abstract
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 Philosophy   Ontology   Political Philosophy   Ethics
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10677-007-9085-3
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 29,440
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Ruling Passions.Simon Blackburn - 1998 - Oxford University Press.
Essays in Quasi-Realism.Simon Blackburn - 1993 - Oxford University Press.
Language, Truth and Logic. 2nd edition.A. J. Ayer - 1952 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 142:256-256.

View all 6 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Pragmatic Antirealism: A New Antirealist Strategy.Michael Scott & Philip Brown - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 161 (3):349-366.
The 'Now What' Problem for Error Theory.Matt Lutz - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 171 (2):351-371.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Abolishing Morality.Stephen L. Darwall - 1987 - Synthese 72 (1):71 - 89.
Nietzsche.Ken Gemes & Christoph Schuringa - 2012 - In Tom Angier (ed.), Ethics: The Key Thinkers. Bloomsbury Academic.
The Complexity of Justice - a Challenge to the 21st Century.Agnes Heller - 2000 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 3 (3):247-262.
Liberal Morality and Socialist Morality.W. B. Gallie - 1949 - Philosophy 24 (91):318 - 334.
Why Moral Error Theorists Should Become Revisionary Moral Expressivists.Toby Svoboda - 2015 - New Content is Available for Journal of Moral Philosophy.
Taking Seriously the Challenges of Agent-Centered Morality.Hye-Ryoung Kang - 2011 - JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL WONKWANG CULTURE 2 (1):43-56.
Morality.Richard Garner - 2011 - Philosophy Now 82:18-20.
Categorical Pardon: On the Argument for Abolishing Capital Punishment.J. Budziszewski - 2002 - Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy 16 (1):43-56.
On Some Issues of Communist Morality.Li Fanfu - 1981 - Contemporary Chinese Thought 13 (1):22-36.
The Nature of Morality.Richard T. Garner - 1977 - Teaching Philosophy 2 (3/4):363-370.
Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total downloads
332 ( #8,976 of 2,180,202 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
10 ( #24,030 of 2,180,202 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums