Chapter

Getting Real about Moral Fictionalism<sup>1</sup>

Jonas Olson

in Oxford Studies in Metaethics

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199606375
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729478 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199606375.003.0008
Getting Real about Moral Fictionalism1

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This chapter considers recent defences of moral fictionalism by Daniel Nolan, Greg Restall and Caroline West (2005) and Richard Joyce (2001, 2005, 2006, 2007). It first explains the route from moral error theory to revisionary moral fictionalism. It then argues against Nolan, Restall, and West that both hermeneutic and revisionary versions of moral fictionalism have trouble accommodating moral disagreement and that they face a version of the Frege-Geach problem. Three objections to Joyce’s defence of revisionary moral fictionalism are developed. First, the claim that false beliefs have detrimental effects, which is supposed to motivate the transition to pretence moral discourse, is subject to counterexamples. Second, the mechanism by which pretence moral belief is supposed to bolster self-control is unclear. Third, moral fictionalism gives conflicting practical recommendations. Finally, an alternative to moral fictionalism — moral conservationism — is elaborated and defended.

Keywords: conservationism; error theory; fictionalism; Joyce; Nolan; Restall; and West; pretence

Chapter.  10916 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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