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Philosophy & Religious Studies   >   Metaethics: Moral Anti-Realism

What is Moral Anti-Realism?

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Metaethics: Moral Anti-Realism

In this course, Dr Luke Elson (University of Reading) explores what it means to be a moral anti-realist. We begin in the first module by thinking about what moral anti-realism actually is. After that, in the second module, we outline four reasons why someone might be an anti-realist. In the following three modules, we think about three anti-realist positions: first, A. J. Ayer’s theory of emotivism; second, R. M. Hare’s theory of prescriptivism; and third, J. L. Mackie’s Error Theory. In the sixth and seventh modules, we think about two of the major weaknesses of anti-realism: first, its inability to explain moral disagreements; and second, its inability to explain moral progress. Finally, in the eighth module, we think about the extent to which moral anti-realism leads to nihilism. And in that case, why be moral at all?

What is Moral Anti-Realism?

In this module, we provide an introduction to moral anti-realism, focusing in particular two different ‘flavours’ of anti-realism: cognitive anti-realism and non-cognitive anti-realism.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Elson, L. (2019, February 27). Metaethics: Moral Anti-Realism - What is Moral Anti-Realism? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Elson, L. "Metaethics: Moral Anti-Realism – What is Moral Anti-Realism?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Feb 2019,

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Dr Luke Elson

Dr Luke Elson

Reading University