preview

Mackie's Argument For Error Theory

Good Essays
In “The Subjectivity of Values,” J.L Mackie argues for Error Theory. Error Theory is a version of moral skepticism. This version of moral skepticism denies the existence of right and wrong as “intrinsically normative entities on fundamental grounds as unsure about what kinds of things such entities would be, if they existed” (Mackie 1977). His ‘Central Argument’ article affirms two things: Objective values provide reason to motivate anyone aware, and the awareness of some objective reason would provide reason in such a way that everyone would be motivated (to some extent) to act in accordance with the value. In this paper, I present Mackie’s argument for Error Theory. I offer examples to show his theory holds only if we understand objective…show more content…
It seems as though that any person would have reason not to torture. Additionally, I think such a reason should motivate any person to abstain from torturing. However, there is the practical motivating understanding of Mackie suggesting that there are no such motivators. If so, then how could one explain the existence of objective moral values? Michael Smith maintains that not everyone is a calm, cool, and collected person, which inhibits their ability to feel the motivation of their awareness of objective values. Consider a weak willed homeless man who does perform according to his knowledge of objective values. Smith contends the lack of motivation violates one of his conditions. This man is either not: calm, cool, or collected. As such, this man should not be taken as a counter example because a fully rational man in these circumstances would feel a sort of motivation Mackie argues…show more content…
Nevertheless, they remain insistent that an agent under ideal conditions would (categorically) feel some motivation. Regardless of the truth of their claim, another problem conflicts with Mackie’s ‘Central Argument’. The second problem with Mackie’s ‘Central Argument’ is whether we should believe that awareness of objective morals really must motivate each and every individual. If we suppose the agent meets Smith’s conditional, then must he be motivated to perform the action(s) objective values would suggest? I do not see humans as a type of creature that would necessarily be motivated by moral values. Awareness of moral values and motivation to act accordingly leaves out many other confounds. Even if we ignore these confounds, Mackie’s asking whether there would be always be motivation; regardless of the fact that there are other conflicting motivating factors, which may override the practical motivation to align one’s actions to some objective
Get Access