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The Myth of Morality

Richard Joyce (Cambridge University Press: March 2002), 264 pages.

Richard Joyce argues in this study that moral discourse is hopelessly flawed. At the heart of ordinary moral judgments is a notion of moral inescapability, or practical authority, which, upon investigation, cannot be reasonably defended. He asserts, moreover, that natural selection is to blame, in that it has provided us with a tendency to invest the world with values that it does not contain, and demands that it does not make. This original and innovative book will appeal to readers interested in the problems of moral philosophy. ~ Product Description • "This book is an impressive and stimulating treatment of central issues in metaethics. It is extremely well-written, combining clarity and precision with an individual style that is engaging and very often witty. It presents a general commentary on the contemporary metaethical debate, on the way to defending a position in that debate — moral fictionalism — that is distinctive and worthy of reaching a wider audience. The book is full of arguments, presenting a wealth of stimulating ideas, objections, and suggestions on all the topics addressed. … A significant virtue of the book is Joyce’s success at clarifying the menu of fundamental options in the metaethical discussion. ~ Jay Wallace, UC Berkeley

Table of Contents

    • Preface
    • 1    Error theory and motivation    1
    • 2    Error theory and reasons    30
    • 3    Practical instrumentalism    53
    • 4    The relativity of reasons    80
    • 5    Internal and external reasons    106
    • 6    Morality and evolution    135
    • 7    Fictionalism    175
    • 8    Moral fictionalism    206
    • Epilogue: Debunking myths    232
    • Select bibliography    243
    • Index    247