preview

Error Theory And Non-Naturalism Analysis

Decent Essays
The most prominent objection to error theory is the moral realist theory of ethical non-naturalism. While error theory and non-naturalism share two defining features, their fundamental differences could not be greater. Non-naturalism is built on the same initial claim as error theory; both views agree that ethical sentences assert moral truths. Both outlooks also agree that moral properties are unlike any natural property known to exist, meaning they are not reducible to non-moral features. Non-naturalists, however, differ from error theorists in their belief that some moral truths asserted through ethical sentences are actually true despite their queer properties. Furthermore, they believe that moral truths are objective and cannot be influenced…show more content…
It does not, however, accept that we would need a special perception or intuition that does not exist in order to understand these features. Non-naturalists embrace the idea of ethical intuitionism, the belief that we learn about moral properties through direct observation (Ridge). The second half of the “Argument from Queerness” provides non-naturalists with another objection to error theory. Mackie claims that if moral truths did exist, they would have to be intrinsically overridingly motivational. He bases this idea of strong motivational internalism on Plato’s Form of the Good. The notion that moral truths must be overridingly motivational is an extreme interpretation that is not widely accepted. Instead, non-naturalists make a case for weak motivational internalism; this understanding “allows that even though the person who makes a sincere moral judgment will feel some motivation to comply with it, that motivation can be overridden by conflicting desires and defeated by a variety of mental maladies” (Rosati). Weak motivational internalism accounts for those who make moral judgments but do not abide by them. Another way to explain these individuals is to deny the idea that beliefs must be motivational altogether, and instead propose a…show more content…
He calls upon philosopher David Hume’s argument that “reason can never be ‘an influencing motive of the will’” (40). The Humean Theory of Motivation is centered around the idea “moral motivation cannot arise from moral belief alone but must depend as well upon a preexisting desire or other intrinsically motivating state” (Rosati). Preexisting desires do not provide actual moral motivation, the moral belief just happens to be in accordance with a desire that is likely the main incentive for completing the action. That leaves intrinsic motivation as the only option. Weak motivational internalism offers a valid alternative to Mackie’s motivational requirements of moral truths. Conflicting desires do sometimes overpower morality, leading people to engage in behavior/events they feel are morally wrong. Mental illnesses such as depression can also suppress motivation to abide by certain moral values. The only viable response to these points is Mackie’s claim that the Form of the Good provides an end with “to-be-pursuedness” that is not dependent on the desires of the individual. Thus, the fact that it is possible for these individuals to override their moral beliefs only further proves that these beliefs did not come from objective
Get Access