Moral scepticism

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L060-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 21, 2021, from

References and further reading

  • Annas, J. and Barnes, J. (1985) The Modes of Scepticism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, esp. 151–71.

    (Contains excerpts of the Pyrrhonist sceptical arguments and useful commentary.)

  • Ayer, A.J. (1936) ‘Critique of Ethics and Theology’, in Language, Truth and Logic, London: Gollancz; 2nd edn, 1946; 2nd edn repr. in G. Sayre-McCord (ed.) Essays on Moral Realism, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988, ch. 1.

    (Probably the most accessible introduction to noncognitivism in ethics.)

  • Brink, D.O. (1989) Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, esp. chaps 2, 5, 6.

    (A difficult but comprehensive treatment of moral realism, containing a detailed response to error theory.)

  • Butchvarov, P. (1989) Skepticism in Ethics, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

    (A systematic defence of partial moral scepticism.)

  • DePaul, M.R. (1993) Balance and Refinement: Beyond Coherentism in Moral Inquiry, London: Routledge.

    (A sophisticated discussion of the method of reflective equilibrium, and a defence of a nonsceptical, related method for moral inquiry.)

  • Dworkin, R. (1996) ‘Objectivity and Truth: You’d Better Believe It’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 25 (2): 87–139.

    (A sustained and moderately accessible attack on various versions of moral scepticism.)

  • Geach, P. (1972) ‘Assertion’, in Logic Matters, Oxford: Blackwell.

    (A difficult but influential criticism of noncognitivism.)

  • Hare, R.M. (1952) The Language of Morals, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    (The original, and most influential, presentation of universal prescriptivism.)

  • Hare, R.M. (1993) ‘Objective Prescriptions’, in A.P. Griffiths (ed.) Ethics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1–17.

    (A moderately accessible attempt to reconcile the prescriptivity and objectivity of moral judgments.)

  • Harman, G. (1977) The Nature of Morality, New York: Oxford University Press.

    (An accessible introduction to ethics, containing an influential ‘explanatory’ criticism of moral knowledge.)

  • Hume, D. (1739/40) A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. L.A. Selby-Bigge, revised by P.H. Nidditch, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2nd edn, 1978, esp. 455–76.

    (A classic source of sceptical arguments, both in general and with regard to ethics.)

  • Mackie, J.L. (1977) Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong, Harmondsworth: Penguin, esp. 1–49.

    (The original, and most influential, source of error theory in ethics.)

  • McDowell, J. (1985) ‘Values and Secondary Qualities’, in T. Honderich (ed.) Morality and Objectivity, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 110–129; repr. in G. Sayre-McCord (ed.) Essays on Moral Realism, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988, ch. 8.

    (A difficult but important criticism of Mackie’s error theory.)

  • Moore, G.E. (1903) Principia Ethica, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, esp. ch. 5.

    (An influential presentation of intuitionism about value, including partial moral scepticism about obligation.)

  • Nagel, T. (1980) ‘The Limits of Objectivity’, in S.M. McMurrin (ed.) The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press, 77–139.

    (A difficult but influential piece, critical of Mackie.)

  • Ross, W.D. (1930) The Right and the Good, Oxford: Oxford University Press, esp. ch. 2.

    (A classic exposition of pluralist intuitionism about obligation, combined with partial moral scepticism.)

  • Sayre-McCord, G. (1988) ‘Moral Theory and Explanatory Impotence’, in Midwest Studies in Philosophy 12: 433–458; repr. in G. Sayre-McCord (ed.) Essays on Moral Realism, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988, ch. 11.

    (An accessible argument for the indispensability of evaluative facts.)

  • Sinnott-Armstrong, W. and Timmons, M. (1996) Moral Knowledge? New Essays in Moral Epistemology, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    (A collection of moderately difficult but important essays on moral knowledge and moral scepticism, with a useful annotated bibliography.)

  • Stevenson, C.L. (1944) Ethics and Language, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    (An early but sophisticated version of noncognitivism.)

  • Sturgeon, N. (1984) ‘Moral Explanations’, in D. Copp and D. Zimmerman (eds) Morality, Reason and Truth: New Essays on the Foundations of Ethics, Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Allanheld, 49–78; repr. in G. Sayre-McCord (ed.) Essays on Moral Realism, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988, ch. 10.

    (A moderately accessible criticism of Harman’s explanatory critique of moral realism.)

  • Timmons, M. (1990) ‘Spindel Conference 1990: Moral Epistemology’, Southern Journal of Philosophy, suplementary vol. 29.

    (A wide-ranging collections of essays on moral knowledge and moral scepticism, with an extensive bibliography, post-1971.)

  • Toulmin, S.E. (1970) Reason in Ethics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, esp. part III.

    (The original, and most accessible, presentation of the ‘good reasons’ approach in ethics.)

  • Wright, C. (1996) ‘Truth in Ethics’, in B. Hooker (ed.) Truth in Ethics, Oxford: Blackwell, 1–18.

    (A moderately accessible introduction to a minimalist conception of truth in ethics.)

Citing this article:
Nelson, Mark T.. Bibliography. Moral scepticism, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L060-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2021 Routledge.

Related Searches


Related Articles