Moral Anti Realism

Moral Anti Realism

Moral Anti-Realism


  • Moral Anti-Realism is a position that opposes Moral Realism, the idea that moral properties or facts exist independently of human thought or perceptions.
  • Anti-realists argue that moral truths are not objective but are instead subject to human sentiment, thought, or cultural practice.

Types of Anti-Realism


  • Constructivism posits that moral truths don’t exist independently; instead, they are constructed by rational agents.
  • Central to this view is the idea that moral principles are the result of a fair agreement under suitable conditions.

Error Theory

  • Championed by philosophers like J.L. Mackie, Error Theory suggests moral terms and concepts are systematically flawed or erroneous.
  • According to this view, all moral claims are false because they mistakenly imply the existence of objective moral facts.


  • One embodiment of non-cognitivism, Emotivism argues that moral judgements do not express propositions and cannot be true or false.
  • Philosophers such as A.J. Ayer argue that moral statements merely express emotions or attitudes, rather than objective facts.

Criticisms and Responses

Inadequacy of Moral Language

  • Critics argue that moral language intimates objectivity and truth, contradicting the anti-realist proposition.
  • In response, anti-realists might call for a reimagining of our moral language deeply rooted in expressivism, the view that the function of moral language is not to state facts, but to express attitudes about actions.

Moral Disagreement

  • The existence of persistent moral disagreement has been used as a criticism against Anti-realism.
  • Anti-realists respond by suggesting that these disagreements can be seen as variations in attitudes rather than disagreements over objective facts.

Arbitrariness of Moral Facts

  • Critics claim that without objectivity, moral facts become arbitrary and meaningless.
  • Anti-realists counter this by saying that even without an independent moral reality, moral claims can still have meaning and motivate action when they align with an individual’s emotions or attitudes.

Remember, understanding and engaging critically with these arguments and counter-arguments will be key to your success in Moral Philosophy.