Moral nihilism

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 7 November 2016

Moral nihilism

When determining the status of morality there is three different options. Morality may be the different between objectives, relativistic, or it may be a complex set of rules. Moral nihilists are like relativists by denying ethical objectivism however, relativists believe in moral goodness, duty and virtue and nihilists don’t. Error theorists and expressivism are both forms of moral nihilism. Error theorists believe “our moral judgments are always mistaken”. Expressivists don’t agree and also deny that our moral claims can ever offer an accurate take on reality. (307)

Error theory and expressivism are two forms of moral nihilism. Error theorists believe “our moral judgments are always mistaken”. (307) While expressivists deny those beliefs and deny, “that our moral claims can never offer an accurate take on reality”. (307) The error theory is made of three doubts/claims. The first is “there are no moral features in this world”. Error theorists believe that nothing is morally good or bad, or right and wrong. Exemplified in the book many scientific qualities in the world (liquids, being three feet long, carbon based chemicals) but none of them contain moral features.

The next doubt of error theorists is no moral judgments are true. There are no moral facts so certain statements made cannot be true. The third corresponds to the second doubt, “our sincere moral judgments try, but always fail, to describe the moral features of things”. Since there are no moral truths for moral decisions, all of our moral claims are mistaken. These three principles used by error theorists lead to the conclusion of no moral knowledge. The fourth claim counteracts and answers the third point. “There is no moral knowledge” when means knowledge requires truth.

(307) If no moral truths are given there can be no moral knowledge. Error theorists want it to be known that all moral thoughts are wrong. They believe that moral thoughts are not believable and people who believe in them are lies. Error theorists stand by there main point “morality is nothing but a fiction”. Error theorists are kind of like atheists. The example in the book is “error theory is to morality as atheism is to religion. ” They both deny truths of widely populate views. Atheists don’t believe in god yet a very large percent of the population believes in god even if there are many different gods.

Error theorists deny morality even though many people live life off of their “moral beliefs”. You can think of atheists are error theorists about religion. Atheists think there are no religious beliefs in the world and when religious people try to preach, atheists believe they never speak the truth about “god”. Error theorists have agreed that the main disbelief of morality is the assumption of objective moral beliefs. These beliefs “supply us with an excellent reason for obedience, regardless of what we care about”. (309) Morality is objective and provides the ones who believe in morality with “categorical reasons”.

If you don’t agree with categorical reasons then this proves error theorists true that there is no such thing as morality. To prove that error theorists are right they have to convince people of how they came out with the thought that morality is a lie. Error theorists must first prove that morality is a commitment to categorical reasons. If morality doesn’t rely on these and they can prove a different way to live off of moral reasoning’s, then error theorist are wrong. The second point is that error theorists must show that at least of the moral assumptions are false.

Its good that many people haven’t heard of the error theory because if error theorists can prove the moral theory wrong, there would be terrible results. People would now believe they have been living a lie their entire life. If morality is proven wrong, people will do whatever they want and everyone will soon go crazy. If error theorists are correct, they must defend themselves that morality is objective. Expressivism is like error theory with a few changes in certain places. Expressivists accept the first two beliefs of error theorists. The first “there are no moral features in this world”. The second belief “no moral judgments are true”.

The beliefs that separates error theory and expressivism that expressivists think they are not trying to speak the truth while making moral judgments. Error theorists believe “our sincere moral judgments try and always fail to describe the moral features of things. (312) Expressivists vent their emotions and are known to make others act certain ways by making a plan of action. Expressivists want to have confidence in morality while also denying ethical objectivity. Expressivists say “moral claims cannot be true, then this makes it very difficult to understand how moral argument is possible”.

An argument to this theory is that a conclusion must be true provided that its premises are true. My opinion would be that expressivists theory cannot be true. The other claims they make cant be used. If the first two parts are true then the third cannot be true. If the two parts of the argument are true the conclusion will be as well. Expressivists warn to “not be fooled by the superficial similarity between factual claims and moral ones”. (315) Moral claims are known as nihilism that would mean…

Moral claims are nothing essentially. They express our personal feelings. That’s how expressivists express people’s moral judgments.

Concluding with all that I have learned with the different theories and morality. Morality is a set of objective tasks and rules to oblige by, giving us specific reasons to do everything that we do. Error theorists believe there is no such thing as morality. Moral beliefs are all lies in other words.

They think out moral thinking is about assumptions in our head that is a lie. Expressivists are the same as error theorists and believe that “denying moral duties supply us with categorical reasons”. (317) Error theorists believe morality is all fake in peoples heads. I believe with the error theorists about morality.


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 7 November 2016

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