How not to be a normative irrealist

Jimmy expresses sympathy for Scanlon’s contractualism but wonders whether it might be better developed in the context of a Humean expressivism. Jimmy presses this point, in part, by observing that much of what Scanlon wants to say about moral and normative discourse, such as their logical discipline and apparent truth-aptitude, can be accommodated by the expressivist. If all that Scanlon wants to say about moral and normative discourse can be accommodated by the expressivist then what content can be given to his denial of expressivism, to his commitment to a cognitive understanding of moral judgment and judgments of reasons? The appearance of a genuine dispute between Scanlon and the expressivist can seem to slip quietly out of view. In this reply I will focus in detail on one strand of Scanlon’s thought that raises difficulties for the expressivist model that Jimmy favors. The point is to emphasize that there is indeed a genuine dispute between Scanlon and the expressivist and to suggest, tentatively, that Scanlon’s contractualism might require its present cognitive development.
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