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Moral Error TheoryHistory, Critique, Defence$
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Jonas Olson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198701934

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198701934.001.0001

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Projectivist, Non-Cognitivist, and Error Theorist

(p.43) 3 Hägerström
Moral Error Theory

Jonas Olson

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the metaethics of the Swedish philosopher Axel Hägerström (1868–1939). Hägerström endorsed different versions of moral error theory that he combined with non-cognitivism. Hägerström’s early theory is non-cognitivism combined with the idea that we believe erroneously that our moral utterances are assertions. Hägerström’s later theory combines non-cognitivism about ‘primary’ moral judgements with standard moral error theory about ‘secondary’ moral judgements. The chapter concludes with a discussion of Einar Tegen’s (1884–1965) critique of Hägerström. Tegen offered what is likely the first formulation and defence of moral error theory as we know it today.

Keywords:   error theory, Hägerström, non-cognitivism, primary moral judgements, secondary moral judgements, Tegen

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