David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (1):86–116 (2008)
Expressivism’s central idea is that normative sentences bear the same relation to non-cognitive attitudes that ordinary descriptive sentences bear to beliefs: the expression relation. Allan Gibbard teIls us that “that words express judgments will be accepted by almost everyone” - the distinctive contribution of expressivism, his claim goes, is only a view about what kind of judgments words express. But not every account of the expression relation is equally suitable for the expressivist’s purposes. In fact, what I argue in this paper, considering four possible accounts of expression, is that how suitable each account is for the expressivist’s purpose varies in proportion to how controversial it is. So Gibbard is wrong - if expression is to get expressivism off the ground, then it will be enormously controversial whether words do express judgments. And thus expressivism is committed to strong claims about the semantics of non-normative language.
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