Pragmatism, Minimalism, Expressivism

Although contemporary pragmatists tend to be sympathetic to expressivist accounts of moral, modal and other problematic vocabularies, it is not clear that they have any right to be. The problem arises because contemporary pragmatists tend to favour deflationary accounts of truth and reference, thereby seeming to elide the distinction between expressive and repressentational uses of language. To address this problem, I develop a meta-theoretical framework for understanding what is involved in explanations of meaning in terms of use, and why some but not all such explanations deflationary. Exploiting this framework, I argue that expressivist explanations of problematic vocabularies are really a particular kind of deflationary explanation. It follows that pragmatists can thus take such explanations on board without committing themselves to the distinction between expressive and robustly representational uses of language that articulations of expressivism typically invoke
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DOI 10.1080/09672559.2010.492116
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Amie L. Thomasson (2013). Norms and Necessity. Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (2):143-160.
Lionel Shapiro (2014). Sellars on the Function of Semantic Vocabulary. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (4):792-811.

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