Nihilism, Nietzsche and the Doppelganger Problem

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (5):441-456 (2007)

Charles R. Pigden
University of Otago
Nihilism, Nietzsche and the Doppelganger Problem Was Nietzsche a nihilist? Yes, because, like J. L. Mackie, he was an error-theorist about morality, including the elitist morality to which he himself subscribed. But he was variously a diagnostician, an opponent and a survivor of certain other kinds of nihilism. Schacht argues that Nietzsche cannot have been an error theorist, since meta-ethical nihilism is inconsistent with the moral commitment that Nietzsche displayed. Schacht’s exegetical argument parallels the substantive argument (advocated in recent years by Wright and Blackburn) that Mackie’s error theory can’t be true because if it were, we would have to give up morality or give up moralizing. I answer this argument with a little bit of help from Nietzsche. I then pose a problem, the Doppelganger Problem, for the meta-ethical nihilism that I attribute to Mackie and Nietzsche. (If A is a moral proposition then not-A is a moral proposition: hence not all moral propositions can be false.) I solve the problem by reformulating the error theory and also deal with a variant of the problem, the Reinforced Doppelganger, glancing at a famous paper of Ronald Dworkin’s. Thus, whatever its demerits, the error theory, is not self-refuting, nor does it require us to give up morality.
Keywords Philosophy   Ontology   Political Philosophy   Ethics
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10677-007-9097-z
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Truth and Objectivity.Crispin Wright - 1992 - Harvard University Press.
Objectivity and Truth: You'd Better Believe It.Ronald Dworkin - 1996 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 25 (2):87-139.
Nietzsche on Morality.Brian Leiter - 2002/2014 - Routledge.

View all 16 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Revisiting Folk Moral Realism.Thomas Pölzler - 2017 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 8 (2):455-476.
Attributing Error Without Taking a Stand.Caleb Perl & Mark Schroeder - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (6):1453-1471.
How to Measure Moral Realism.Thomas Pölzler - 2018 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 9 (3):647-670.

View all 22 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Nihilism Before Nietzsche.Michael Allen Gillespie - 1995 - University of Chicago Press.
Camus and Nihilism.Ashley Woodward - 2011 - Sophia 50 (4):543-559.
Deleuze, Nietzsche, and the Overcoming of Nihilism.Ashley Woodward - 2013 - Continental Philosophy Review 46 (1):115-147.
Ontology, Metaphysics, Ethics and Nihilism.Christine Daigle - 2002 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 16 (1):3-18.
Nietzsche and Nihilism.Brian Howard Gilbert - 1999 - Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada)
Nietzsche and Heidegger: The Truth of Nihilism.Joseph Pasqual Vincenzo - 1984 - Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University
Nihilism and the Postmodern in Vattimo's Nietzsche.Ashley Woodward - 2002 - Minerva - An Internet Journal of Philosophy 6 (1):51-67.


Added to PP index

Total views
1,353 ( #1,691 of 2,280,957 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
163 ( #2,974 of 2,280,957 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature