more from J.L. Mackie

Single Idea 4761

[catalogued under 22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / f. Ethical non-cognitivism]

Full Idea

Mackie's 'error theory' of ethics says that if a fact is something that corresponds to a true proposition, there are actually no moral facts, hence no knowledge of what moral statements are about.

Gist of Idea

The 'error theory' of morals says there is no moral knowledge, because there are no moral facts


report of J.L. Mackie (Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong [1977]) by Pascal Engel - Truth 4.2

Book Reference

Engel,Pascal: 'Truth' [Acumen 2002], p.107

A Reaction

Personally I am inclined to think that there are moral facts (about what nature shows us constitutes a good human being), based on virtue theory. Mackie is a good warning, though, against making excessive claims. You end up like a bad scientist.