Ethics 125 (3):826-828, (2015)

Max Siegel
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In recent metaethics, moral realists have advanced a companions-in-guilt argument against moral nihilism. Proponents of this argument hold that the conclusion that there are no categorical normative reasons implies that there are no epistemic reasons. However, if there are no epistemic reasons, there are no epistemic reasons to believe nihilism. Therefore, nihilism is false or no one has epistemic reasons to believe it. While this argument is normally presented as a reply to Mackie, who introduced the term “companions-in-guilt” in his Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong of 1977, Herbert J. Phillips presented a form of this argument in Ethics in 1940. In this paper, I will discuss Phillips’ version of the companions-in-guilt argument, demonstrate how recent epistemology bears out an important premise of the argument, and compare Phillips’ argument to Derek Parfit’s recent work
Keywords epistemic reasons  moral nihilism  moral error theory  epistemic rationality  companions-in-guilt
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1086/679552
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Epistemic Rationality as Instrumental Rationality: A Critique.Thomas Kelly - 2003 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (3):612–640.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Why Be Rational?Herbert J. Phillips - 1940 - Ethics 51 (1):38-48.
Historical Skepticism.Herbert J. Phillips - 1947 - Journal of Philosophy 44 (17):449-459.
Causation and Selectivity.Herbert J. Phillips - 1942 - Philosophy of Science 9 (2):139-145.
Philonis Alexandrini in Flaccum.E. D. Phillips & Herbert Box - 1939 - Journal of Hellenic Studies 59:316.
Sanctions and Obligation in Naturalistic Ethics.Herbert J. Phillips - 1946 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 7 (4):612-621.
Phillips and Eternal Life: A Response to Haldane.Mikel Burley - 2008 - Philosophical Investigations 31 (3):237–251.
Morris R. Cohen's Legal Philosophy: A Rational Synthesis.Carol Phillips - 1986 - In Martin Tamny & K. D. Irani (eds.), Rationality in Thought and Action. Greenwood Press. pp. 29--111.
D. Z. Phillips' Contemplations on Religion and Literature.Mikel Burley - 2012 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 71 (1):21-37.
The Logic of Rational Decision.Herbert A. Simon - 1965 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 16 (63):169-186.


Added to PP index

Total views
251 ( #36,440 of 2,433,358 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
22 ( #34,655 of 2,433,358 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes