A World Without Values

Essays on John Mackie's Moral Error Theory

  • Richard Joyce
  • Simon Kirchin

Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 114)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxiv
  2. John P. Burgess
    Pages 1-15
  3. Richard Joyce
    Pages 35-53
  4. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
    Pages 55-70
  5. David Phillips
    Pages 87-99
  6. Don Loeb
    Pages 101-118
  7. Michael Smith
    Pages 119-139
  8. David Copp
    Pages 141-165
  9. Simon Kirchin
    Pages 167-182
  10. Graham Oddie, Daniel Demetriou
    Pages 199-215
  11. Richard Garner
    Pages 217-233
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 235-238

About this book


For centuries, certain moral philosophers have maintained that morality is an illusion, comparable to talking of ghosts or unicorns. These moral skeptics claim that the world simply doesn’t contain the sort of properties (such as moral badness, moral obligation, etc.) necessary to render moral statements true. Even seemingly obvious moral claims, such as "killing innocents is morally wrong" fail to be true. What would lead someone to adopt such a radical viewpoint? Are the arguments in its favor defensible or plausible? What impact would embracing such a view have on one’s practical life?

Taking as its point of departure the work of moral philosopher John Mackie (1917-1981), A World Without Values is a collection of essays on moral skepticism by leading contemporary philosophers, some of whom are sympathetic to Mackie’s views, some of whom are opposed. Rather than treating moral skepticism as something to dismiss as quickly as possible, this anthology is a comprehensive exploration of the topic, and as such will be a valuable resource for students of moral philosophy at all levels, as well as professionals in the field of meta-ethics. A World Without Values presents state-of-the-art arguments that advance the ongoing philosophical debate on several fronts, and will enjoy an important place on any meta-ethicist’s bookshelf for some years to come.


J.L.Mackie Meta-ethics Moral error theory Moral skepticism ethics moral judgments morality

Editors and affiliations

  • Richard Joyce
    • 1
  • Simon Kirchin
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.School of European Culture &University of KentCanterbury, KentUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information

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