Moral nihilism maintains that value judgments cannot be justified. In this paper I argue against two prominent nihilistic theories: error theory and expressivism. First I present a meta-valuation thesis, which holds that it would be more valuable if at least some value judgments were justified. Second I argue for a value-justification thesis, which holds that the greater value of value-justifying theories warrants a rejection of nihilistic theories. This latter thesis requires a pragmatist premise: justified beliefs are the most valuable of possible beliefs. With this premise and a critique of meta-ethical theory choice, I argue that meta-ethical justification proceeds via an atypical form of the method of reflective equilibrium. Since this particular method cannot produce a justification for error theory or expressivism, I conclude that these two forms of moral nihilism should be rejected in favor of more valuable meta-ethical theories.
Weismuller, J.P., "Values and Beliefs: A pragmatist critique of moral nihilism" (2012). Honors Projects. Paper 6.
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