Fitting-Attitudes, Secondary Qualities, and Values

Philosophical Topics 38 (1):87-105 (2010)
Abstract
Response-dispositional accounts of value defend a biconditional in which the possession of an evaluative property is said to covary with the disposition to cause a certain response. In contrast, a fitting-attitude account of the same property would claim that it is such as to merit or make fitting that same response. This paper argues that even for secondary qualities, response-dispositional accounts are inadequate; we need to import a normative notion such as appropriateness even into accounts of such descriptive properties as redness. A preliminary conclusion is that the normativity that appears in fitting-attitude accounts of evaluative properties need not have anything to do with the evaluative nature of those properties. It may appear there because evaluative properties—or at least thosefor which fitting-attitude accounts are plausible—really are so much like secondary qualities that it might well be appropriate to think of them as a subclass of secondary qualities. In the second half of the paper I discuss the views of three of the philosophers who have been most influential in discussions of response-featuring accounts of evaluative notions and who explicitly distinguish response-dispositional accounts of value from fittingattitude accounts: John McDowell, Simon Blackburn, and Crispin Wright. I highlight some of the theoretical temptations that can be associated with the assumption that the response-dispositional/fitting-attitude distinction parallels the secondary quality/evaluative property distinction
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