gap gap

Edited by Richard Joyce &
Simon Kirchin

Springer Press, 2010

This book is a revised and expanded version of a special issue of Ethical Theory and Moral Practice that Simon Kirchin and I edited in 2007 in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of John Mackie's Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (1977)




dust jacket blurb:

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


Introduction, Richard Joyce & Simon Kirchin [pdf available here]

“Against ethics,” John P. Burgess

“Nihilism, Nietzsche, and the doppelganger problem,” Charles Pigden

“Patterns of objectification,” Richard Joyce [pdf available here]

“Mackie’s internalisms,” Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

“Mackie’s realism: Queer pigs and the web of belief,” Jamie Dreier

“Mackie on practical reason,” David Phillips

“The argument from moral experience,” Don Loeb

“Beyond the error theory,” Michael Smith

“Normativity, deliberation, and queerness,” David Copp

“A tension in the moral error theory,” Simon Kirchin

“Business as usual? The error theory, internalism, and the
function of morality,” Caroline West

“The fictionalist's attitude problem,” Graham Oddie & Dan Demetriou

“Abolishing morality,” Richard Garner


"A World without Values contains some of the best contemporary evaluations to date both of Mackie's error theory and of its wider philosophical significance. It is also the first multi-authored work on this scale devoted exclusively to this topic. As such, it is a significant event."
-- Hallvard Lillehammer, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2010)

“The introductory chapter provides a good explanation of Mackie’s moral error theory. … Overall, this volume will be excellent reading for those interested in the strengths and weaknesses of Mackie’s moral error theory in particular, or in the metaethical debate between moral realists and anti-realists more generally.”
-- Diego Machuca, Philosophy in Review (2011)

"The introduction ... is very well written and provides appropriate context for the volume; it is highly recommended. ... Overall, this is a fine set of essays, and Joyce and Kirchin do us a service by bringing them together. ... [T]his really is a strong collection of essays, and one that engages an important theory in a fair and balanced way. The volume should catalyse new discussion of Mackie's moral error theory, as well as associated discussions about moral scepticism more generally."
-- Fritz Allhoff, Philosophical Quarterly (2011)

"The collection is a very good read and is highly recommended, both to experts and students."
-- Folke Tersman, International Journal for the Study of Skepticism (2015)



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