Language, Meaning, and Ethics

This paper takes up an underdeveloped argument of Charles Taylor that linguisticality is constitutive of moral agency. Taylor’s position is part of a set of contemporary arguments that language, especially as dialogue or discourse, is the normative framework which grounds or validates fundamental norms or values. Taylor’s contribution to this “dialogical turn” is substantial and innovative, but it is not without weakness. Rather than deal with all the issues involved in this dialogical turn, I argue just that language does ground morality as a distinctively human way of creating meaning, that is, as Taylor argues, constitutive of the self and self-understanding. Self-understanding, or the appropriation of moral self-consciousness, is what is meant by the authenticity and autonomy which constitute moral authority. I argue in essence that language provides a necessary and constitutive link between private and public spheres of meaning in a way that renders moral discourse meaningful and constitutively human
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DOI 10.5840/pcw199741/27
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Ora Gruengard (2008). Dialectics in Everyday Life. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 4:59-66.
Ray Lepley (1957). The Language of Value. Westport, Conn.,Greenwood Press.

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