A noncognitivist reading of Quine's ethics

Dialectica 51 (2):119–134 (1997)
Until recently it has been tacitly assumed that Quine is a cognitivist about ethical sentences, that ethical sentences have cognitive meaning. I argue that for broad systematic reasons Quine must be read as a noncognitivist concerning ethical sentences. Because Quine himself has written as if he were a cognitivist, he has a number of claims about ethics which turn out to conflict with the noncognitivist reading of his position, and I make explicit the conflicts engendered by three particular claims. I tentatively explore a pair of strategies for eliminating the conflicts or reducing their effects. In the end these strategies do not appear promising, and Quinean ethics, on this noncognitivist reading of Quine, ends up somewhat the worse for wear
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DOI 10.1111/j.1746-8361.1997.tb00024.x
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