The conversational practicality of value judgement

Journal of Ethics 8 (3):205-223 (2004)
Analyses of moral value judgements must meet a practicality requirement: moral speech acts characteristically express pro- or con-attitudes, indicate that speakers are motivated in certain ways, and exert influence on others' motivations. Nondescriptivists including Simon Blackburn and Allan Gibbard claim that no descriptivist analysis can satisfy this requirement. I argue first that while the practicality requirement is defeasible, it indeed demands a connection between value judgement and motivation that resembles a semantic or conceptual rather than merely contingent psychological link. I then show how a form of descriptivism, the interest-relational theory, satisfies the requirement as a pragmatic and conversational feature of value judgement – thereby also accommodating its defeasibility. The word ``good'' is always indexed to some set of motivations: when this index is unarticulated in many contexts the speaker conversationally implicates possession of those motivations.
Keywords cognitivism and noncognitivism  conversational implicature  descriptivism and nondescriptivism  motivational internalism  relational theory of value  semantics and pragmatics  value judgement
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DOI 10.1023/B:JOET.0000031064.73238.8f
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Caj Strandberg (2015). Options for Hybrid Expressivism. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (1):91-111.
Stephen Finlay (2009). Oughts and Ends. Philosophical Studies 143 (3):315 - 340.
Caj Strandberg (2012). A Dual Aspect Account of Moral Language. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (1):87-122.
Stephen Finlay (2006). The Reasons That Matter. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (1):1 – 20.

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