Being for: Evaluating the semantic program of expressivism • by M ark S chroeder • C larendon P ress , 2008. XVI + 198 pp . £27.50: Summary [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Analysis 70 (1):101-104 (2010)
My project in Being For is both constructive and negative. The main aim of the book is to take the core ideas of meta-ethical expressivism as far as they can go, and to try to develop a version of expressivism that solves many of the more straightforward open problems that have faced the view without being squarely confronted. In doing so, I develop an expressivist framework that I call biforcated attitude semantics, which I claim has the minimal structural features required in order to solve some of these open problems facing expressivism. I take biforcated attitude semantics to prove that expressivism is a coherent and interesting hypothesis about the semantics of natural languages.So much for the constructive part; having argued that biforcated attitude semantics incorporates the minimal moves required in order to solve a few of the more pressing open questions facing expressivism, I use it in order to productively constrain what an expressivist answer to further open questions must look like. The results, I end up arguing, are ultimately not promising; the very same structural features that expressivists need in order to answer so simple a problem as to explain why ‘P’ and ‘∼P’ are inconsistent sentences lead to a very general problem about how ordinary, non-moral sentences are to end up with the right truth-conditions, and though I show how to finesse this problem for some simple constructions – truth-conditional connectives and the quantifiers – I ultimately argue that it can’t be done for the full range of constructions in natural languages – including terms like modals, tense and binary quantifiers like ‘most’. So even if expressivism is coherent and interesting, it is an extremely unpromising hypothesis about the language that we actually speak.The main theme of the book is that the most fruitful way …
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