Moral Error Theory: History, Critique, Defence by Jonas Olson

By Jonas Olson

Jonas Olson provides a severe survey of ethical mistakes idea, the view that there are not any ethical proof and so all ethical claims are fake. partly I (History), he explores the historic context of the controversy, and discusses the ethical errors theories of David Hume and of a few roughly influential 20th century philosophers, together with Axel Hägerström, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Richard Robinson. He argues that the early circumstances for ethical errors conception are suggestive yet that they'd were more advantageous had they incorporated anything like J. L. Mackie's arguments that ethical homes and evidence are metaphysically queer. half II (Critique) makes a speciality of those arguments. Olson identifies 4 queerness arguments, touching on supervenience, wisdom, motivation, and irreducible normativity, and is going directly to identify that whereas the 1st 3 aren't compelling, the fourth has enormous strength, specially while mixed with debunking reasons of why we have a tendency to think that there are ethical homes and proof while actually there are none. One end of half II is believable blunders concept takes the shape of an mistakes concept approximately irreducible normativity. partially III (Defence), Olson considers demanding situations in keeping with which that sort of mistakes idea has not easy ramifications concerning hypothetical purposes, epistemic purposes, and deliberation. He ends his dialogue with a attention of the consequences of ethical blunders thought for usual ethical notion and speak, and for normative theorizing.

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Two anonymous readers for OUP, one of whom turned out to be Matt Bedke, provided extremely useful and detailed comments on the content as well as the organization of the material. Peter Momtchiloff at OUP has been very helpful in the editorial process. All of these people contributed to making the book much better than it otherwise would have been. Needless to say, they bear no responsibility for the faults that remain. I wish to acknowledge a special debt of gratitude to the late Jordan Howard Sobel, from whom I learnt a lot about metaethics and about Hume’s philosophy.

But since agents do not have free will, there are no true moral judgements. There are several possible grounds on which to reject free will and one might take such arguments to support either an error theory about all moral concepts or an error theory that is restricted only to certain moral concepts. For example, one might argue that attributions of moral responsibility presuppose that agents are the ultimate causes of their own actions. 23 Consequently, one might argue, there are no true attributions of moral responsibility, but other kinds of moral judgements, for example about moral goodness and badness, may be true.

Parts of this book are based on the following previously published material: Olson, J. 2011. ‘In Defence of Moral Error Theory’. In New Waves in Metaethics, edited by M. Brady. Basingstoke: Palgrave, Macmillan, 62–84. Olson, J. 2011. ‘Error Theory and Reasons for Belief’. In Reasons for Belief, edited by A. Reisner and A. Steglich-Petersen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 75–93. Olson, J. 2011. ‘Getting Real about Moral Fictionalism’. In Oxford Studies in Metaethics vol. 6, edited by R. Shafer-Landau.

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