The limits of sentimentalism

Ethics 116 (2):337-361 (2006)
Abstract
Unlike traditional sentimentalists, sophisticated sentimentalists don’t think that the main linguistic function of evaluative terms is simply to express emotional responses. Instead, they contend that to predicate an evaluative term to an object is to judge that a particular emotion is justified toward that object. I will raise a fundamental difficulty for the sophisticated sentimentalists’ attempt to provide a credible account of the meaning of our most important evaluative terms. A more careful examination of the relations between the affective and the reflective elements characteristic of our evaluative thinking will suggest that the emotions play a less central role in an account of the meaning of evaluative terms than sentimentalists have assumed.
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