Jonas Olson presents a critical survey of moral error theory, the view that there are no moral facts and so all moral claims are false. Part I explores the historical context of the debate; Part II assesses J. L. Mackie's famous arguments; Part III defends error theory against challen... ges and considers its implications for our moral thinking.
Jonas Olson presents a critical survey of moral error theory, the view that there are no moral facts and so all moral claims are false. In Part I (History), he explores the historical context of the debate, and discusses the moral error theories of David Hume and of some more or less influential twentieth century philosophers, including Axel Hagerstrom, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Richard Robinson. He argues that the early cases for moral error theory are suggestive but that they would have been stronger had they included something like J. L. Mackie's arguments that moral properties and facts are metaphysically queer. Part II (Critique) focuses on these arguments. Olson identifies four queerness arguments, concerning supervenience, knowledge, motivation, and irreducible normativity, and goes on to establish that while the first three are not compelling, the fourth has considerable force, especially when combined with debunking explanations of why we tend to believe that there ar
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