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Moral Error TheoryHistory, Critique, Defence$
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Jonas Olson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198701934

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198701934.001.0001

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Hume

Hume

Projectivist, Realist, and Error Theorist

Chapter:
(p.21) 2 Hume
Source:
Moral Error Theory
Author(s):

Jonas Olson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198701934.003.0002

This chapter argues that while Hume believes both that morality is grounded in our ordinary moral practices, sentiments, and beliefs, and that moral properties are real, he also holds that ordinary moral thinking involves systematically erroneous beliefs about moral properties. These claims, on their face, seem difficult to square with one another but it is argued that on Hume’s view, they are reconcilable. The reconciliation is effected by making a distinction between Hume’s descriptive metaethics and his revisionary metaethics. It is argued that Hume is a projectivist and an error theorist in descriptive metaethics, while he is a projectivist and a subjectivist in revisionary metaethics. Finally, the moral error theories of Hume and Mackie are compared.

Keywords:   Hume, Mackie, metaethics, revisionary and descriptive, projectivism, realism, subjectivism

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