Philosophical Quarterly 64 (256):407-422 (2014)

Christopher Cowie
Cambridge University
One recently popular strategy for avoiding the moral error theory is via a ‘companions in guilt’ argument. I focus on those recently popular arguments that take epistemic facts as a companion in guilt for moral facts. I claim that there is an internal tension between the two main premises of these arguments. It is a consequence of this that either the soundness or the dialectical force of the companions in guilt argument is undermined. I defend this claim via (i) analogy with philosophical debates concerning the indispensability of mathematical objects to natural science, and (ii) discussion of the ‘entanglement’ of epistemic concepts and moral concepts in deliberation. I conclude by proposing a positive view of what kind of argument must be used if moral error theories are to be successfully undermined.
Keywords Companions in Guilt Arguments  Moral Reasons  Epistemic Reasons  Error Theory
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/pq/pqu028
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,959
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

Values and Secondary Qualities.John McDowell - 1985 - In Ted Honderich (ed.), Morality and Objectivity. London: Routledge. pp. 110-129.
The Myth of Morality.Hallvard Lillehammer - 2004 - Mind 113 (452):760-763.
Epistemic Rationality as Instrumental Rationality: A Critique.Thomas Kelly - 2003 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (3):612–640.
Spreading the world.Simon Blackburn - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 176 (3):385-387.
Can We Believe the Error Theory?Bart Streumer - 2013 - Journal of Philosophy 110 (4):194-212.

View all 19 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

If Nothing Matters.Guy Kahane - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):327-353.
Pain for the Moral Error Theory? A New Companions-in-Guilt Argument.Guy Fletcher - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (3):474-482.
On Some Arguments for Epistemic Value Pluralism.Timothy Perrine - 2020 - Logos and Episteme 11 (1):77-96.
Rescuing Companions in Guilt Arguments.Richard Rowland - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (262):161–171.

View all 20 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Shame, Guilt and Morality.Fabrice Teroni & Otto Bruun - 2011 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 8 (2):223-245.
Guilt-Free Morality.Gilbert Harman - 2009 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 4:203-14.
Collective Guilt and Collective Guilt Feelings.Margaret Gilbert - 2002 - The Journal of Ethics 6 (2):115-143.


Added to PP index

Total views
193 ( #60,383 of 2,504,809 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
9 ( #81,690 of 2,504,809 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes