An Error Theory about All Normative Judgments
Oxford University Press 2017
It’s intuitive to think that statements of the form “lying is wrong” ascribe a property—that of wrongness—to acts of the type lying. In this way, one might think that statements of this kind are much like statements of the form “Bill is left-handed,” which also seems to attribute a property—left-handedness to Bill. But what about a statement like “Bill is a Wookie?” As there is no property of being a Wookie, the statement seems then to be false. What’s called the error theory is the view that statements that attribute moral properties are always false, because no such properties exist.
In Unbelievable Errors: An Error Theory about All Normative Judgments (Oxford University Press, 2017), Bart Streumer offers a fascinating kind of defense of the error theory as it applies to all normative judgments: Streumer argues that the error theory cannot be believed, and its unbelievability makes the error theory more likely to be true.