Moral nihilism and its implications

Journal of Mind and Behavior 38 (1):75-90 (2017)
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Philosophers have identified a number of principles that characterize morality and underlie moral judgments. However, philosophy has failed to establish any widely agreed-upon justification for these judgments, and an “error theory” that views moral judgments as without justification has not been successfully refuted. Evolutionary psychologists have had success in explaining the likely origins and mechanisms of morality but have also not established any justification for adopting particular values. As a result, we are left with moral nihilism -- the absence of any unarguable values or behaviors we must or should adopt. The philosophical and psychological implications of this nihilism suggest accepting shared, non-absolute values as “good enough”; a revised, humbler view of moral and other value judgments; and the possible acceptance of the hard truth of a value nihilism.



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Marc Krellenstein
Northeastern University

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References found in this work

What do philosophers believe?David Bourget & David J. Chalmers - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 170 (3):465-500.
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A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1969 - Harmondsworth,: Penguin Books. Edited by Ernest Campbell Mossner.
Ethics and the limits of philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1985 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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