Cognitivist expressivism and the nature of belief

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (3):279 - 293 (2008)
Abstract
The paper is a critical examination of the metaethical position taken up recently by Terence Horgan and Mark Timmons, called ‘cognitivist expressivism’. The key component of the position is their insistence that some beliefs are nondescriptive. The paper argues against this thesis in two ways: First by sketching an independently plausible account of belief, on which belief is essentially a certain kind of descriptive representational state; and second by rebutting Horgan and Timmons’ positive arguments in favor of their account. The final section argues that Horgan and Timmons’ view cannot survive abandonment of the thesis that moral beliefs are nondescriptive in character.
Keywords Expressivism  Belief  Representation  Metaethics  Cognitivism  Motivation  Phenomenology  Direction of fit
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