Not Just Errors: A New Interpretation of Mackie’s Error Theory

Victor Moberger


J. L. Mackie famously argued that a commitment to non-existent objective values permeates ordinary moral thought and discourse. According to a standard interpretation, Mackie construed this commitment as a universal and indeed essential feature of moral judgments. In this paper I argue that we should rather ascribe to Mackie a form of semantic pluralism, according to which not all moral judgments involve the commitment to objective values. This interpretation not only makes better sense of what Mackie actually says, but also renders his error theory immune to a powerful objection.

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Victor Moberger
Uppsala University