Fictionalism in Metaethics

Authored by: Richard Joyce

The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138812208
eBook ISBN: 9781315213217
Adobe ISBN:


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Looking back, it is clear that humans have held massively mistaken beliefs about ­virtually every aspect of the world: the place of the Earth in the universe, the physical nature of everyday objects, where living things come from and how they reproduce, what happens to us when we die, and so forth. We are pretty good at getting things wrong. Often these errors can be corrected while the key concepts are revised rather than rejected. We didn’t decide that the Earth, stars, animals, death, etc., don’t exist; rather, we rectified our false beliefs about them and carried on talking about these topics (now, hopefully, more truly). Sometimes, however, the errors are so entrenched that the concepts in question seem beyond salvaging. Regarding angels, vitalistic life force, karmic reincarnation, tapu, supernatural divination, phlogiston, astrology, and so on, we didn’t simply undertake an internal correction to the concepts in question, but rather decided that the whole conceptual framework in question was faulty.

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