Morality and Epistemic Judgment: The Argument From Analogy

ISBN : 9780198842736

Christopher Cowie
240 Pages
135 x 216 mm
Pub date
Oct 2019
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Moral judgments attempt to describe a reality that does not exist, so they are all false. This is the moral error theory, a deeply troubling yet plausible view that is now one of the canonical positions in moral philosophy. The most compelling argument against it is the argument from analogy. According to this, the moral error theory should be rejected because it would seriously compromise our practice of making epistemic judgments-judgments about how we ought to form and revise our beliefs in light of our evidence-and could undermine systematic thought and reason themselves. Christopher Cowie provides a novel assessment of the recent attention paid to this topic in moral philosophy and epistemology. He reasons that the argument from analogy fails because moral judgments are unlike judgments about how we ought to form and revise our beliefs in light of our evidence. On that basis, a moral error theory does not compromise the practice of making epistemic judgments. The moral error theory may be true after all, Cowie concludes, and if it is then we will simply have to live with its concerning consequences.


Part I. The Argument From Analogy
1 Moral Error Theory
2 The Analogy
Part II. Against the Analogy
3 Against Internalism-Parity
4 Against Internalism-Parity: A Supplementary Argument
5 Against Irreducibility-Parity
Part III. Elaboration
6 The Conventionalism Criticism
7 Simple Veritism
8 The Normativity of Evidence
Part IV. Fall-Backs and Loose-Ends
9 Error Theory and Thought
10 A Puzzling Combination
11 Conclusion

About the author: 

Christopher Cowie obtained his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2014. He subsequently worked as a Research Fellow at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. Cowie is currently Assistant Professor in Philosophy at the University of Durham.

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