Philosophical Studies

, Volume 176, Issue 7, pp 1905–1921 | Cite as

Saving which differences? Creeping minimalism and disagreement

  • Christine TiefenseeEmail author


Much thought has been devoted to how metaethical disagreement between moral realism and expressivism can be saved once minimalism starts creeping. Very little thought has been given to how creeping minimalism affects error-theories’ disagreement with their metaethical competitors. The reason for this omission, I suspect, is found in the belief that whilst locating distinctive moral realist and expressivist positions within a minimalist landscape poses a severe challenge, no such difficulties are encountered when differentiating error-theories from moral realism and expressivism. In the first part of this paper, I show that this belief is mistaken: Insofar as moral realists and error-theorists are still taken to disagree, creeping minimalism renders their disagreement moral, but makes these positions metaethically indistinguishable. In the second part of the paper, I present a modified inferentialist solution to the problem of creeping minimalism which seeks to put error-theories back on the metaethical map. Yet, this too comes at a cost, in that it significantly modifies our interpretation of error-theories. Whichever way we turn, then, creeping minimalism not only forces us to re-phrase metaethical positions in a way that is compatible with minimalism, but also requires us to change our very understanding of these positions.


Creeping minimalism Metaethics Expressivism Moral realism Error-theories Inferentialism 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Frankfurt School of Finance & ManagementFrankfurtGermany

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