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  1. added 2019-09-28
    “Putting the Linguistic Method in its Place”: Mackie’s Distinction Between Conceptual and Factual Analysis.Tammo Lossau - forthcoming - Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 22.
    Early in his career and in critical engagement with ordinary language philosophy, John Mackie developed the roots of a methodology that would be fundamental to his thinking: Mackie argues that we need to clearly separate the conceptual analysis which determines the meaning of an ordinary term and the factual analysis which is concerned with the question what, if anything, our language corresponds to in the world. I discuss how Mackie came to develop this distinction and how central ideas of his (...)
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  2. added 2019-08-23
    Attributing Error Without Taking a Stand.Caleb Perl & Mark Schroeder - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (6):1453-1471.
    Moral error theory is the doctrine that our first-order moral commitments are pervaded by systematic error. It has been objected that this makes the error theory itself a position in first-order moral theory that should be judged by the standards of competing first-order moral theories :87–139, 1996) and Kramer. Kramer: “the objectivity of ethics is itself an ethical matter that rests primarily on ethical considerations. It is not something that can adequately be contested or confirmed through non-ethical reasoning” [2009, 1]). (...)
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  3. added 2018-11-05
    Nietzsche and Contemporary Metaethics.Alex Silk - 2018 - In Paul Katsafanas (ed.), Routledge Philosophical Minds: The Nietzschean Mind. Routledge.
    Recent decades have witnessed a flurry of interest in Nietzsche's metaethics — his views, if any, on metaphysical, epistemological, semantic, and psychological issues about normativity and normative language and judgment. Various authors have highlighted a tension between Nietzsche's metaethical views about value and his ardent endorsement of a particular evaluative perspective: Although Nietzsche makes apparently "antirealist" claims to the effect that there are no evaluative facts, he vehemently engages in evaluative discourse and enjoins the "free spirits" to create values. Nearly (...)
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  4. added 2018-10-15
    Reductivism, Nonreductivism and Incredulity About Streumer’s Error Theory.N. G. Laskowski - 2018 - Analysis 78 (4):766-776.
    In Unbelievable Errors, Bart Streumer argues via elimination for a global error theory, according to which all normative judgments ascribe properties that do not exist. Streumer also argues that it is not possible to believe his view, which is a claim he uses in defending his view against several objections. I argue that reductivists and nonreductivists have compelling responses to Streumer's elimination argument – responses constituting strong reason to reject Streumer’s diagnosis of any alleged incredulity about his error theory.
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  5. added 2018-07-12
    Moral Skepticism: An Introduction and Overview.Diego E. Machuca - 2018 - In Diego E. Machuca (ed.), Moral Skepticism: New Essays. New York: Routledge. pp. 1-31.
    In this introductory chapter, I not only present the essays that make up this volume but also I offer an extensive critical overview of moral skepticism with the hope that it will turn out to be useful particularly to the uninitiated reader. I first provide a taxonomy of varieties of moral skepticism, then discuss the main arguments advanced in their favor, and finally summarize the ten essays here collected, which deal with one or more of those skeptical stances and arguments.
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  6. added 2018-02-27
    Moral Skepticism, Fictionalism, and Insulation.Diego E. Machuca - 2018 - In Diego E. Machuca (ed.), Moral Skepticism: New Essays. New York: Routledge. pp. 213-234.
    It has been claimed that a key difference between ancient and contemporary skepticism is that, unlike the ancient skeptics, contemporary skeptics consider ordinary beliefs to be insulated from skeptical doubt. In the case of metaethics, this issue is related to the following question: what attitude towards ordinary moral thought and discourse should one adopt if one is a moral skeptic? Whereas moral abolitionists claim that one should do away with ordinary moral thought and discourse altogether, moral fictionalists maintain that, given (...)
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  7. added 2017-12-21
    Why Queerness is Not Enough.Kretz David - 2014 - Romanian Journal of Analytic Philosophy 8 (1):32-43.
    Moral error theorists often claim to be strongly anti‑metaphysical in their moral scepticism and atheistic naturalists. This paper argues that pre‑ cisely this becomes a problem for them, when their metaethical and ontologi‑ cal commitments clash. I first outline how the known arguments against error theory face a problematic, yet rarely considered trade‑off : either they are very strong, then they are also very demanding in their assumptions or they are less demanding in their assumptions but rather weak in their (...)
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  8. added 2017-07-19
    Moral Nihilism and its Implications.Marc Krellenstein - 2017 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 38 (1):75-90.
    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 (...)
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  9. added 2017-01-17
    Projection, Indeterminacy and Moral Skepticism.Hallvard Lillehammer - 2017 - In Diego Machuca (ed.), Moral Skepticism: New Essays. New York, USA: Routledge.
    According to moral error theory, morality is something invented, constructed or made; but mistakenly presents itself to us as if it were an independent object of discovery. According to moral constructivism, morality is something invented, constructed or made. In this paper I argue that constructivism is both compatible with, and in certain cases explanatory of, some of the allegedly mistaken commitments to which arguments for moral skepticism appeal. I focus on two particular allegations that are sometimes associated with moral skepticism. (...)
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  10. added 2017-01-03
    Vedānta, Śaṅkara and Moral Irrealism (Ethics-1, M10).Shyam Ranganathan - 2016 - In A. Raghuramaraju (ed.), Philosophy, E-PG Pathshala. Delhi: India, Department of Higher Education (NMEICT).
    This and the following lessons cover the topic of Vedānta and ethics. Vedānta has two meanings. The first is the literal sense – “End of Vedas” – and refers to the Āraṇyakas and Upaniṣads—the latter part of the Vedas. The second sense of “Vedanta” is a scholastic one, and refers to a philosophical orientation that attempts to explain the cryptic Vedānta Sūtra (Brahma Sūtra) of Bādarāyaṇa, which aims at being a summary of the End of the Vedas. We shall pursue (...)
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  11. added 2016-12-08
    Nihilism, Nietzsche and the Doppelganger Problem.Charles R. Pigden - 2007 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (5):441-456.
    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 (...)
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  12. added 2016-08-15
    Why Moral Error Theorists Should Become Revisionary Moral Expressivists.Toby Svoboda - 2015 - Journal of Moral Philosophy:1-25.
    Moral error theorists hold that morality is deeply mistaken, thus raising the question of whether and how moral judgments and utterances should continue to be employed. Proposals include simply abolishing morality, adopting some revisionary fictionalist stance toward morality, and conserving moral judgments and utterances unchanged. I defend a fourth proposal, namely revisionary moral expressivism, which recommends replacing cognitivist moral judgments and utterances with non-cognitivist ones. Given that non-cognitivist attitudes are not truth apt, revisionary expressivism does not involve moral error. Moreover, (...)
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  13. added 2016-08-15
    The Fictionalist’s Attitude Problem.Graham Oddie & Daniel Demetriou - 2007 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (5):485-498.
    According to John Mackie, moral talk is representational but its metaphysical presuppositions are wildly implausible. This is the basis of Mackie's now famous error theory: that moral judgments are cognitively meaningful but systematically false. Of course, Mackie went on to recommend various substantive moral judgments, and, in the light of his error theory, that has seemed odd to a lot of folk. Richard Joyce has argued that Mackie's approach can be vindicated by a fictionalist account of moral discourse. And Mark (...)
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  14. added 2015-12-06
    If Nothing Matters.Guy Kahane - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):327-353.
    The possibility that nothing really matters can cause much anxiety, but what would it mean for that to be true? Since it couldn’t be bad that nothing matters, fearing nihilism makes little sense. However, the consequences of belief in nihilism will be far more dramatic than often thought. Many metaethicists assume that even if nothing matters, we should, and would, go on more or less as before. But if nihilism is true in an unqualified way, it can’t be the case (...)
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  15. added 2015-12-03
    Climate Change Inaction and Moral Nihilism.Thomas Pölzler - 2015 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 18 (2):202-214.
    The effects of anthropogenic climate change may be devastating. Nevertheless, most people do not seem to be seriously concerned. We consume as much as we always did, drive as much as we always did, eat as much meat as we always did. What can we do to overcome this collective apathy? In order to be able to develop effective measures, we must first get clear about the causes of climate change inaction. In this paper I ask whether moral nihilism is (...)
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  16. added 2015-06-05
    On Believing the Error Theory.Alexander Hyun & Eric Sampson - 2014 - Journal of Philosophy 111 (11):631-640.
    In his recent article entitled ‘Can We Believe the Error Theory?’ Bart Streumer argues that it is impossible (for anyone, anywhere) to believe the error theory. This might sound like a problem for the error theory, but Streumer argues that it is not. He argues that the un-believability of the error theory offers a way for error theorists to respond to several objections commonly made against the view. In this paper, we respond to Streumer’s arguments. In particular, in sections 2-4, (...)
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  17. added 2015-03-20
    On Contingently Error-Theoretic Concepts.Kristie Miller - 2010 - American Philosophical Quarterly 47 (2):181-190.
    An error theorist about a particular discourse combines the cognitivist thesis that the discourse is truth-apt with the thesis that core statements asserted by the discourse are false. For instance, one is an error theorist about witch discourse if one thinks that witch discourse is truth-apt and that some of the entities and properties quantified over by core statements in the discourse, namely witches and magical powers, do not exist and hence that certain core statements of the discourse are false.
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  18. added 2014-12-13
    Parsimony and the Argument From Queerness.Justin Morton & Eric Sampson - 2014 - Res Philosophica 91 (4):609-627.
    In his recent book Error Theory: History, Critique, Defence, Jonas Olson attempts to revive the argument from queerness originally made famous by J.L. Mackie. In this paper, we do three things. First, we eliminate four untenable formulations of the argument. Second, we argue that the most plausible formulation is one that depends crucially upon considerations of parsimony. Finally, we evaluate this formulation of the argument. We conclude that it is unproblematic for proponents of moral non-naturalism—the target of the argument from (...)
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  19. added 2014-04-01
    Bertrand Russell: Meta-Ethical Pioneer.Charles R. Pigden - 1996 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 26 (2):181-204.
    Bertrand Russell was a meta-ethical pioneer, the original inventor of both emotivism and the error theory. Why, having abandoned emotivism for the error theory, did he switch back to emotivism in the 1920s? Perhaps he did not relish the thought that as a moralist he was a professional hypocrite. In addition, Russell's version of the error theory suffers from severe defects. He commits the naturalistic fallacy and runs afoul of his own and Moore's arguments against subjectivism. These defects could be (...)
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  20. added 2014-03-29
    Error Theory and Fictionalism.Nadeem Hussain - 2010 - In John Skorupski (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Ethics. Routledge.
    This paper surveys contemporary accounts of error theory and fictionalism. It introduces these categories to those new to metaethics by beginning with moral nihilism, the view that nothing really is right or wrong. One main motivation is that the scientific worldview seems to have no place for rightness or wrongness. Within contemporary metaethics there is a family of theories that makes similar claims. These are the theories that are usually classified as forms of error theory or fictionalism though there are (...)
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  21. added 2014-03-23
    Debunking Morality: Evolutionary Naturalism and Moral Error Theory.Hallvard Lillehammer - 2003 - Biology and Philosophy 18 (4):567-581.
    The paper distinguishes three strategies by means of which empirical discoveries about the nature of morality can be used to undermine moral judgements. On the first strategy, moral judgements are shown to be unjustified in virtue of being shown to rest on ignorance or false belief. On the second strategy, moral judgements are shown to be false by being shown to entail claims inconsistent with the relevant empirical discoveries. On the third strategy, moral judgements are shown to be false in (...)
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  22. added 2014-03-22
    Moral Error Theory.Hallvard Lillehammer - 2004 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 104 (2):93–109.
    The paper explores the consequences of adopting a moral error theory targeted at the notion of reasonable convergence. I examine the prospects of two ways of combining acceptance of such a theory with continued acceptance of moral judgements in some form. On the first model, moral judgements are accepted as a pragmatically intelligible fiction. On the second model, moral judgements are made relative to a framework of assumptions with no claim to reasonable convergence on their behalf. I argue that the (...)
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  23. added 2014-03-22
    The Return of Moral Fictionalism.Nadeem J. Z. Hussain - 2004 - Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):149–188.
    Fictionalism has recently returned as a standard response to ontologically problematic domains. This article assesses moral fictionalism. It argues (i) that a correct understanding of the dialectical situation in contemporary metaethics shows that fictionalism is only an interesting new alternative if it can provide a new account of normative content: what is it that I am thinking or saying when I think or say that I ought to do something; and (ii) that fictionalism, qua fictionalism, does not provide us with (...)
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  24. added 2014-03-12
    Hermeneutic Moral Fictionalism as an Anti-Realist Strategy.Stacie Friend - 2008 - Philosophical Books 49 (1):14-22.
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  25. added 2014-03-04
    Hybridizing Moral Expressivism and Moral Error Theory.Toby Svoboda - 2011 - Journal of Value Inquiry 45 (1):37-48.
    Philosophers should consider a hybrid meta-ethical theory that includes elements of both moral expressivism and moral error theory. Proponents of such an expressivist-error theory hold that all moral utterances are either expressions of attitudes or expressions of false beliefs. Such a hybrid theory has two advantages over pure expressivism, because hybrid theorists can offer a more plausible account of the moral utterances that seem to be used to express beliefs, and hybrid theorists can provide a simpler solution to the Frege-Geach (...)
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  26. added 2014-02-08
    Moral Error Theory and the Belief Problem.Jussi Suikkanen - 2013 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics: Volume 8. Oxford University Press. pp. 168-194.
    Moral error theories claim that (i) moral utterances express moral beliefs, that (ii) moral beliefs ascribe moral properties, and that (iii) moral properties are not instantiated. Thus, according to these views, there seems to be conclusive evidence against the truth of our ordinary moral beliefs. Furthermore, many error theorists claim that, even if we accepted moral error theory, we could still in principle keep our first-order moral beliefs. This chapter argues that this last claim makes many popular versions of the (...)
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  27. added 2014-02-08
    Moral Error Theory and the Problem of Evil.Chris Daly - 2009 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 1 (2):89 - 105.
    Moral error theory claims that no moral sentence is (nonvacuously) true. Atheism claims that the existence of evil in the world is incompatible with, or makes improbable, the existence of God. Is moral error theory compatible with atheism? This paper defends the thesis that it is compatible against criticisms by Nicholas Sturgeon.
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  28. added 2014-01-18
    Introduction to Hume on Motivation and Virtue.Charles Pigden - 2009 - In Hume on Motivation and Virtue. pp. 1-29.
    This includes a methodological meditation (in blank verse) on the history of philosophy as a contribution to philosophy (rather than as a contribution to history) plus a conspectus of the issues surrounding Hume, the Motivation Argument and the Slavery of Reason Thesis. However I am posting it here mainly because it contains a novel restatement of the Argument from Queerness. Big Thesis: the Slavery of Reason Thesis (via the Motivation Argument) provides no support for non-cognitivism or emotivism, but there is (...)
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  29. added 2013-11-19
    How Does Moral Nihilism Affect Our Taking Action Against Climate Change?Thomas Pölzler - 2013 - Proceedings of the 13. International Conference of ISSEI.
    The effects of anthropogenic climate change will be devastating. Nevertheless, most people do not seem to be seriously concerned. We consume as much as we always did, drive as much as we always did, eat as much meat as we always did. What can we do to overcome this collective apathy? In order to be able to develop effective measures, we must first get clear about the causes of climate change inaction. In this paper I ask whether moral nihilism (the (...)
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  30. added 2013-05-07
    Review of R. Joyce & S. Kirchin (Eds.), A World Without Values: Essays on John Mackie’s Moral Error Theory (Springer, 2010). [REVIEW]Diego E. Machuca - 2011 - Philosophy in Review 31 (5):354-358.
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  31. added 2013-02-20
    Moral Error Theory and the Argument From Epistemic Reasons.Richard Rowland - 2012 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 7 (1):1-24.
    In this paper I defend what I call the argument from epistemic reasons against the moral error theory. I argue that the moral error theory entails that there are no epistemic reasons for belief and that this is bad news for the moral error theory since, if there are no epistemic reasons for belief, no one knows anything. If no one knows anything, then no one knows that there is thought when they are thinking, and no one knows that they (...)
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  32. added 2012-09-28
    The Argument From Queerness.Hallvard Lillehammer - 2013 - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics.
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  33. added 2012-07-12
    Constructivism and the Error Theory.Hallvard Lillehammer - 2011 - In Christian Miller (ed.), The Continuum Companion to Ethics. Continuum.
    This paper presents a comparative evaluation of constructivist and error theoretic accounts of moral claims. It is argued that constructivism has distinct advantages over error theory.
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  34. added 2011-11-08
    The Possibility of Morality.Phil Brown - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (3):627-636.
    Despite much discussion over the existence of moral facts, metaethicists have largely ignored the related question of their possibility. This paper addresses the issue from the moral error theorist’s perspective, and shows how the arguments that error theorists have produced against the existence of moral facts at this world, if sound, also show that moral facts are impossible, at least at worlds non-morally identical to our own and, on some versions of the error theory, at any world. So error theorists’ (...)
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  35. added 2010-05-17
    In Defence of Error Theory.Chris Daly & David Liggins - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 149 (2):209-230.
    Many contemporary philosophers rate error theories poorly. We identify the arguments these philosophers invoke, and expose their deficiencies. We thereby show that the prospects for error theory have been systematically underestimated. By undermining general arguments against all error theories, we leave it open whether any more particular arguments against particular error theories are more successful. The merits of error theories need to be settled on a case-by-case basis: there is no good general argument against error theories.
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  36. added 2009-05-24
    The Error in the Error Theory.Stephen Finlay - 2008 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (3):347-369.
    Moral error theory of the kind defended by J. L. Mackie and Richard Joyce is premised on two claims: (1) that moral judgements essentially presuppose that moral value has absolute authority, and (2) that this presupposition is false, because nothing has absolute authority. This paper accepts (2) but rejects (1). It is argued first that (1) is not the best explanation of the evidence from moral practice, and second that even if it were, the error theory would still be mistaken, (...)
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