Groundwork for a Nonconcessive Expressivism

The Frege Geach problem was rst raised by ? (1939: 33•34) and independently by ? (1958, 1960, 1965) and Searle (1962, 1969) and was originally directed at expressivist proposals such as Ayer's (1946: 108) emotivism: It is worth mentioning that ethical terms do not serve only to express feeling. They are calculated also to arouse feeling, and so to stimulate action. . . . In fact we may de ne the meaning of the various ethical words in terms both of the di erent feelings they are ordinarily taken to express, and also the di erent responses which they are calculated to provoke. Ayer's talk of `de ning' the meanings of ethical words suggests that he identi ed the meaning of an ethical word with the attitudes it expresses and provokes. Ayer's emotivism is subject to the Frege Geach problem because it is a form of atomistic reduction. It is atomistic in that it assumes a one•one correlation between the meanings of ethical words and the linguistic actions they perform (such as the expression and provoca• tion of the relevant attitudes). It is a reduction in that it identi es the meaning of an ethical word with attitudes it expresses and provokes. Atomistic reductions face the following dilemma: Suppose that freestanding and embedded occurrences of `wrong' mean the same. The problem is that words can occur in embedded contexts and fail to express the attitudes they do in freestanding contexts. This di culty would be avoided if the atomistic reduction applied only to the meaning of freestanding occurrences. However, if the account applies only to freestanding occurrences, then it is incomplete, for the expressivist would lack an account of the meaning of ethical words in embedded contexts. Furthermore, some guaran• tee must be given that freestanding and embedded occurrences mean the same despite their meanings being di erently determined. For, if freestanding and embedded occurrences dif• fer in meaning, then the expressivist is apparently committed to the invalidity of recognized forms of valid argument (due to the fallacy of equivocation)..
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