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Companions in guilt arguments.

Cowie, Christopher (2018) 'Companions in guilt arguments.', Philosophy compass., 13 (11). e12528.


Arguments for some controversial positions in metaethics—typically moral scepticism or the moral error theory—are sometimes thought to overreach. They appear to entail sceptical or error‐theoretic views about non‐moral branches of thought in a sense that is costly or implausible. If this is true, those metaethical arguments should be rejected. This is the companions in guilt strategy in metaethics. In this article, the contemporary use of the companions in guilt strategy is explored and assessed. The methodology of the strategy is discussed, and criteria for assessing specific instances of its use are identified. Prominent instances of its use in the contemporary literature are then examined. The focus is on those that take (a) epistemic judgment, (b) prudential judgment, and (c) mathematical judgment as “companions,” with a view to undermining the moral error theory and moral scepticism, respectively.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is the accepted version of the following article: Cowie, Christopher (2018). Companions in Guilt Arguments in Metaethics. Philosophy Compass, e12528, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Date accepted:15 February 2018
Date deposited:19 June 2018
Date of first online publication:26 June 2018
Date first made open access:26 June 2020

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