Chapter

Moral Belief and the Possibility of Error

Alan Thomas

in Value and Context

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780198250173
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191604072 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198250177.003.0011
 Moral Belief and the Possibility of Error

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A contextualist defence of cognitivism is open to the charge that it cannot supply a convincing theory of error for when moral judgements diverge. This chapter rebuts this concern: conditions have been set out for when apparent conflict between moral views really is such, or, alternatively, whether we should accept different diagnoses in any particular case. If a conflict between moral beliefs is genuinely a case of conflict, then various explanations have been supplied for why this might be so that do not, as yet, directly draw on the idea of moral error. This is to make the task facing a theory of moral error more manageable. In developing such a theory, it was argued that it is not a defect of cognitivism but a strength that it can explain moral error. The issue of social criticism was considered and a model described for the criticism of ideological beliefs that was, to a certain extent, independent of the truth of cognitivism.

Keywords: cognitivism; contextualism; moral belief; theory of error

Chapter.  12476 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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