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Sorting Out Solutions to the Now-What Problem

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Jaquet François,
Project Normative Issues in Metaethics
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy
Volume (Issue) 17(3)
Page(s) 239 - 258
Title of proceedings Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy
DOI 10.26556/jesp.v17i3.812

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Moral error theorists face the so-called “now-what problem”: what should we do with our moral judgments from a prudential point of view if these judgments are uniformly false? On top of abolitionism and conservationism, which respectively advise us to get rid of our moral judgments and to keep them, three revisionary solutions have been proposed in the literature: expressivism (we should replace our moral judgments with conative attitudes), naturalism (we should replace our moral judgments with beliefs in non-moral facts), and fictionalism (we should replace our moral judgments with fictional attitudes). In this paper, I argue that expressivism and naturalism do not constitute genuine alternatives to abolitionism, of which they are in the end mere variants—and, even less conveniently, variants that are conform to the very spirit of abolitionism as formulated by its proponents. The main version of fictionalism, by contrast, provides us with a recommendation to which abolitionists cannot consistently subscribe. This leaves us with only one revisionary solution to the now-what problem.