Moral Relativism, Error Theory, and Ascriptions of Mistakes

Journal of Philosophy 110 (10):564-580 (2013)

Moral error-theorists and relativists agree that there are no absolute moral facts, but disagree whether that makes all moral judgments false. Who is right? This paper examines a type of objection used by moral error-theorists against relativists, and vice versa: objections from implausible ascriptions of mistakes. Relativists (and others) object to error-theory that it implausibly implies that people, in having moral beliefs, are systematically mistaken about what exists. Error-theorists (and others) object to relativism that it implausibly implies that people are systematically mistaken about the content of their own moral beliefs. The paper argues that such arguments cannot settle between the two theories since, contrary to first appearance, both theories face the very same challenges of explaining mistaken beliefs.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0022-362X  
DOI 10.5840/jphil20131101010
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