David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley (forthcoming)
Semantics is the investigation of meaning, and semantic theories, including semantic theories about moral language, come in two very different kinds. Descriptive semantic theories are theories about what words mean. So descriptive moral semantic theories are theories about what moral words mean: words like ‘good’, ‘better’, ‘right’, ‘must’, ‘ought’, ‘reason’, and ‘rational’. In contrast, foundational semantic theories are theories about why words mean what they do, or more specifically, about what makes it the case that words mean what they do. So foundational moral semantic theories are theories about what makes it the case that moral words mean what they do: words like ‘good’, ‘better’, and so on. Since both kinds of theory are sometimes referred to as varieties of ‘moral semantics’, this article will cover both. Just as semantic theories themselves come in two kinds, descriptive semantics raises two very different kinds of issues. Some issues in descriptive semantics turn on the question of what kind of theory is required, in order to be able to account for the meanings of words – including of moral words, in particular. Such questions are questions about the nature of semantic theorizing. So, for example, according to truth-conditional theories, an adequate descriptive semantic theory needs to provide a recursive and compositional characterization of values for sentences which determine the truth conditions of each sentence. Whereas according to expressivist theories, an adequate descriptive semantic theory does not need to determine truth conditions at all, but does need to recursively and compositionally associate each sentence ‘P’ with a mental state – intuitively, with the state which constitutes what it is to think that P. Truth-conditional and expressivist theories involve very different conceptions of the nature of linguistic meaning, but their contrast is one of the most important issues in moral semantics, and they are not even the only live competitors. In contrast, other issues in descriptive semantics, rather than turning on what kind of theory is required, raise questions about specific properties of the meanings of particular words..
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Niklas Möller (2014). All That Jazz: Linguistic Competence and Improvisation. Philosophical Studies 167 (2):237-250.
Similar books and articles
Steven Gross (2005). The Biconditional Doctrine: Contra Kölbel on a “Dogma” of Davidsonian Semantics. [REVIEW] Erkenntnis 62 (2):189 - 210.
Emma Borg (2004). Formal Semantics and Intentional States. Analysis 64 (3):215–223.
James Genone & Tania Lombrozo (2012). Concept Possession, Experimental Semantics, and Hybrid Theories of Reference. Philosophical Psychology 25 (5):1-26.
J. A. Burgess (1997). Supervaluations and the Propositional Attitude Constraint. Journal of Philosophical Logic 26 (1):103-119.
Thomas Hofweber (2010). Inferential Role and the Ideal of Deductive Logic. The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication 5 (1).
H. G. Callaway (1988). Semantic Competence and Truth-Conditional Semantics. Erkenntnis 28 (1):3 - 27.
Kathrin Glüer (2012). Theories of Meaning and Truth Conditions. In Manuel García-Carpintero & Max Kölbel (eds.), The Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Continuum International Pub..
Laura Schroeter, Two-Dimensional Semantics. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Added to index2009-05-29
Total downloads84 ( #15,201 of 1,101,657 )
Recent downloads (6 months)7 ( #35,000 of 1,101,657 )
How can I increase my downloads?