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5. Mackie’s Error Theory
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about J. L. Mackie’s moral error theory, which holds that all of our moral claims are false, since there are no moral properties or facts. In particular, we think about some of the arguments for moral error theory, and the differences between moral error theory on the one hand, and emotivism and prescriptivism on the other.
In this course, Dr Luke Elson (University of Reading) explores what it means to be a moral anti-realist. We begin in the first module by thinking about what moral anti-realism actually is. After that, in the second module, we outline four reasons why someone might be an anti-realist. In the following three modules, we think about three anti-realist positions: first, A. J. Ayer’s theory of emotivism; second, R. M. Hare’s theory of prescriptivism; and third, J. L. Mackie’s Error Theory. In the sixth and seventh modules, we think about two of the major weaknesses of anti-realism: first, its inability to explain moral disagreements; and second, its inability to explain moral progress. Finally, in the eighth module, we think about the extent to which moral anti-realism leads to nihilism. And in that case, why be moral at all?
Luke Elson is a Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Reading. His research interests include ethics, reasons and rationality, especially when they involve vagueness.
Cite this Lecture
Elson, L. (2019, February 27). Metaethics: Moral Anti-Realism - Mackie’s Error Theory [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/metaethics-moral-non-realism/mackie-s-error-theory
Elson, L. "Metaethics: Moral Anti-Realism – Mackie’s Error Theory." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Feb 2019, https://www.massolit.io/courses/metaethics-moral-non-realism/mackie-s-error-theory