Mackie's Error Theory and Reasons

South African Journal of Philosophy 24 (1):1-13 (2005)
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Abstract

The error theory has, for some time, served as a last resort for those who would like to take moral realism seriously but who cannot countenance the thought that moral properties might be non-natural. As soon as their attempts to ‘square' moral properties with natural properties appear to be in trouble, such philosophers resort to the line that the error theory is true. But the error theory trades mostly upon Mackie's influential argument from queerness. Here I attempt two main things. First I argue that the relation at which Mackie's queerness argument is best directed is that of something's being a reason for something else. Second, I argue that error theorists had best back off from the queerness argument since, if sound, it implies that there are not even any reasons for belief: and therefore no reasons to believe the error theory itself. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.24(1) 2005: 1-13

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