Ethics Without Errors


  • Some of the material in this paper comes from an inaugural lecture, “Making Ethics Intelligible” that I gave in Sheffield on 13th May 2009. I have read earlier versions of the former to the Philosophy Department at Lancaster University in February 2012; to the Ratio Conference workshop on Irrealism in Ethics in April 2012; to the Normativity of Law Research Group at the University of York in July, 2012.and to participants in a work in progress discussion group at Sheffield in May 2013. I am grateful to everyone who contributed to these discussions and also to Bart Streumer for his helpful comments.
  • Corrections added on 23 October 2013, after first online publication: typographic and spelling changes were made from pages 1 to 16.


I argue against the claim that we should adopt a moral error theory. The intelligibility of our moral practice need offer no questionable metaphysical hostages to fortune. The two most credible policy recommendations that might follow from moral error theory, abolitionism and prescriptive fictionalism, are not very credible.