The Error Theory : Are Perceived Moral Truths Just Social Standards?

1553 Words7 Pages
Error Theory: Are Perceived Moral Truths Just Social Standards? The question of the validity of moral truths, whether subjective or objective, has existed for centuries: did humanity generate the idea of moral truths or simply discover it? It is certainly comforting, if not convenient, to live in a society that believes in a system of absolute moral principles. Particularly when this moral system provides the basis for the creation of laws and standards that offer members of the society a sense of security. Moral nihilists, those who believe nothing is innately moral nor immoral, threaten this sense of security that the system of moral principles allows for. They do this by inciting fear of a chaotic world as they explore the idea that…show more content…
Moral realists claim that despite human opinions about ethical values, there are objective moral truths which make some ethical claims true. Despite the objections of moral realists, what some people refer to as moral truths are nothing more than mistaken assertions based on the presumption of moral qualities; in fact, this paper will explore the idea that there are no accessible moral features in this world and any attempt to assert moral truths is just a reaction to an idea based on social expectations. The status of the existence of moral truths, whether they are objective, subjective, or nonexistent, has been extensively argued from all positions without reaching any concrete conclusions. Philosopher J.L Mackie makes a case for their nonexistence in his “Argument from Queerness”. He states that, “the assertion that there are objective values or intrinsically prescriptive entities or features of some kind, which ordinary moral judgments presuppose, is… false” (40). Mackie acknowledges that if moral properties were to exist, they would be measured by qualities or descriptors that are unlike anything we know in the natural world. Furthermore, to even understand these queer properties we would need “some special faculty of moral perception or intuition, utterly different from our ordinary ways of knowing everything else” (38). Since an additional
Open Document