Contours and barriers: What is it to draw the limits of moral language?

Philosophy 84 (4):549-570 (2009)
I explore the idea of language reaching its limits by distinguishing two kinds of limits language may have: The first are “Boundaries” which lie on the edges of language, and distinguish what makes sense from what does not. These, I claim, are suitable in making theoretical generalizations. The second are “Contours,” which lie within language, and allow for contrasting and comparing meanings and shades of meanings that we capture in language. These are more suitable for characterizations of particulars, and for literary use. I claim that failure to draw this distinction is responsible for confusions in Sabina Lovibond’s and Richard Rorty’s views of moral thought and language.
Keywords limits of language / Nonsense  Cora Diamond  Meta-Philosophy  linguistic conservatism  Richard Rorty  Sabina Lovibond
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DOI 10.1017/S0031819109990118
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