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    Ethics without errors: Universal Moral Error Theory and the objection from loss

    Dines, Andrew Jonathan (2023) Ethics without errors: Universal Moral Error Theory and the objection from loss. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Abstract

    According to Universal Moral Error Theory (UMET), all moral propositions are false – or, on some formulations of the theory, lack a truth value. In recent years, something of a niche literature has sprung up, which addresses the question of what do with moral discourse if UMET is true. This is the “What Next?” Question, also known as the “Now What?” Problem. The “Now What?” Problem looks to be hypothetical in structure: either UMET is true or it isn’t, and if it is true, then a workable solution to the “Now What?” Problem would appear to be desirable. However, this hypothetical structure is somewhat misleading: some proposed solutions to the “Now What?” Problem, I argue, are of dubious consistency with their own error theoretical motivations, and this points towards a powerful objection to moral error theory. So the “Now What?” Problem really is a problem for UMET, and its difficulty has been underestimated by some commentators. The objection to which all this points is the objection from loss. This objection is essentially is that ethical discourse is practically indispensable, and for that reason cannot be targeted by an error theory of universal scope. This is different to David Enoch’s indispensability argument, which aims to demonstrate the existence of robustly real metanormative properties. The objection from loss does not establish realism. All it establishes is that UMET is false. The success of the objection from loss is to be explained by a tension within the error theory to which the shortcomings of some proposed solutions to the “Now What?” Problem point – namely, the tension between the need for UMET proponents to convict morality a particular concrete error (or a collection of concrete errors), and the presentation of this version of moral error theory as having universal scope.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2023 14:42
    Last Modified: 10 Oct 2023 14:42
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/52183
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.18743/PUB.00052183

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