The author contends that moral utterances and imperatives have different logical features. He discusses r m hare's "language of morals" in terms of his distinction between plain imperatives and deontic utterances. (staff).
Expressivists, such as Blackburn, analyse sentences such as 'S thinks that it ought to be the case that p' as S hoorays that p'. A problem is that the former sentence can be negated in three different ways, but the latter in only two. The distinction between refusing to accept a moral judgement and accepting its negation therefore cannot be accounted for. This is shown to undermine Blackburn's solution to the Frege-Geachproblem.
I resolve the major challenge to an Expressivist theory of the meaning of normative discourse: the Frege–Geach Problem. Drawing on considerations from the semantics of directive language (e.g., imperatives), I argue that, although certain forms of Expressivism (like Gibbard’s) do run into at least one version of the Problem, it is reasonably clear that there is a version of Expressivism that does not.
......Mathematics coincides with Frege's theory of Sinn and Bedeutung...argued that in cases where Frege would say we recognize over...successful.) With this sort of elucidation, then, I indeed proposed to...use of . . .', or between Frege's 'einen Sinn ausdruckeri.....
The problem of the unity of the proposition asks what binds together the constituents of a proposition into a fully formed proposition that provides truth conditions for the assertoric sentence that expresses it, rather than merely a set of objects. Hanks’ solution is to reject the traditional distinction between content and force. If his theory is successful, then there is a plausible extension of it that readily solves the Frege–Geach problem for normative propositions. Unfortunately Hanks’ theory isn’t successful, (...) but it does point to significant connections between expressivism, unity, and embedding. (shrink)
In the 1960s, Peter Geach and John Searle independently posed an important objection to the wide class of 'noncognitivist' metaethical views that had at that time been dominant and widely defended for a quarter of a century. The problems raised by that objection have come to be known in the literature as the Frege-GeachProblem, because of Geach's attribution of the objection to Frege's distinction between content and assertoric force, and the problem has since occupied a great (...) deal of the attention both of defenders of broadly noncognitivist views, and of their critics. In this article I explain Geach and Searle's historical objections, and put the subsequent discussion into dialectical context, paying some attention to the developments along the way and how they have enhanced our overall understanding of the problem. The article covers a lot of territory, so we will only be able to see the highlights, along the way. For further reading, see the Works Cited. (shrink)
Mark Eli Kalderon has argued for a fictionalist variant of non-cognitivism. On his view, what the Frege–Geach problem shows is that standard non-cognitivism proceeds uncritically from claims about use to claims about meaning; if non-cognitivism's claims were solely about use it would be on safe ground as far as the Frege–Geach problem is concerned. I argue that Kalderon's diagnosis is mistaken: the problem concerns the non-cognitivist's account of the use of moral sentences too.
The Frege‐Geach problem is probably the most serious worry for the prospects of any kind of metaethical expressivism. In a recent article, Ridge suggests that a new version of expressivism, a view he calls ecumenical expressivism, can avoid the Frege‐Geach problem.1 In contrast to pure expressivism, ecumenical expressivism is the view that moral utterances function to express not only desire‐like states of mind but also beliefs with propositional content. Whereas pure expressivists’ solutions to the Frege‐Geach problem usually (...) have rested on some kind of “logic of attitudes,” Ridge argues that it is the expressed belief in the ecumenical machinery that holds the key. Although Ridge’s ecumenical expressivism is promising, this essay argues that his solution is flawed. However, this does not mean that every form of ecumenical expressivism is a failure. Ridge briefly contrasts his view with the kind of view Hare advanced but argues that Hare cannot make use of the ecumenical machinery.2 I argue that this is incorrect. Not only is an ecumenical reading of Hare very plausible and something that establishes him as an important forerunner of today’s ecumenical trend in metaethics, but, more important, it offers guidance where Ridge goes wrong. It solves the Frege‐Geach problem in a way that meets the criticism of more standard solutions head‐on, and it seems to be able to handle the most pressing problems for ecumenical theories. The ecumenical theory that emerges is therefore powerful enough to establish itself as one of the most (if not the most) plausible form of ecumenism on the market. The first part of this article is largely concerned with advancing an ecumenical reading of Hare’s The Language of Morals and the kind of solution it offers in response to the Frege‐Geach problem. Some of the problems such a reading encounters will be addressed as we outline the theory. The most serious worries, however, are addressed in the final part of the essay. (shrink)
According to John Mackie, moral talk is representational (the realists go that bit right) but its metaphysical presuppositions are wildly implausible (the non-cognitivists got that bit right). This is the basis of Mackie’s now famous error theory: that moral judgments are cognitively meaningful but systematically false. Of course, Mackie went on to recommend various substantive moral judgments, and, in the light of his error theory, that has seemed odd to a lot of folk. Richard Joyce has argued that Mackie’s approach (...) can be vindicated by a fictionalist account of moral discourse. And Mark Kalderon has argued that moral fictionalism is attractive quite independently of Mackie’s error-theory. Kalderon argues that the Frege–Geach problem shows that we need moral propositions, but that a fictionalist can and should embrace propositional content together with a non-cognitivist account of acceptance of a moral proposition. Indeed, it is clear that any fictionalist is going to have to postulate more than one kind of acceptance attitude. We argue that this double-approach to acceptance generates a new problem – a descendent of Frege–Geach – which we call the acceptance–transfer problem. Although we develop the problem in the context of Kalderon’s version of non-cognitivist fictionalism, we show that it is not the non-cognitivist aspect of Kalderon’s account that generates the problem. A closely related problem surfaces for the more typical variants of fictionalism according to which accepting a moral proposition is believing some closely related non-moral proposition. Fictionalists of both stripes thus have an attitude problem. (shrink)
A difficulty is exposed in Allan Gibbard's solution to the embedding/Frege-Geachproblem, namely that the difference between refusing to accept a normative judgement and accepting its negation is ignored. This is shown to undermine the whole solution.
CHANGE SLIDE Go through outline of talk CHANGE SLIDE It is my sincerest hope that if there is one thing that people take away from Moral Fictionalism, it is the recognition that standard noncognitivism involves a syndrome of three, logically distinct claims. Standard noncognitivists claim that moral judgment is not belief or any other cognitive attitude but is, rather, a noncognitive attitude more akin to desire; that this noncognitive attitude is expressed by our public moral utterances; and, hence, that our (...) public moral utterances lack a distinctively moral subject matter and so are not answerable to the moral facts. Notice, however, that these are logically distinct claimsthe rst is a psychological claim, the second and third, positive and negative semantic claims, respectively. We can regiment the familiar technical vocabulary as follow: CHANGE.. (shrink)
Divine law theories of metaethics claim that moral rightness is grounded in God’s commands, wishes and so forth. Expressivist theories, by contrast, claim that to call something morally right is to express our own attitudes, not to report on God’s. Ostensibly, such views are incompatible. However, we shall argue that a rapprochement is possible and beneficial to both sides. Expressivists need to explain the difference between reporting and expressing an attitude, and to address the Frege-Geachproblem. Divine law (...) theorists need to get past the Euthyphro dilemma, and to avoid moral externalism. This paper shows how a combined theory helps us to achieve this. (shrink)
Philosophers should consider a hybrid meta-ethical theory that includes elements of both moral expressivism and moral error theory. Proponents of such an expressivist-error theory hold that all moral utterances are either expressions of attitudes or expressions of false beliefs. Such a hybrid theory has two advantages over pure expressivism, because hybrid theorists can offer a more plausible account of the moral utterances that seem to be used to express beliefs, and hybrid theorists can provide a simpler solution to the (...) class='Hi'>Frege-Geachproblem. The hybrid theory has three advantages over pure error theory, because hybrid theorists can offer a more plausible account of the moral utterances that seem to be used to express attitudes, hybrid theorists can more easily explain moral motivation, and hybrid theorists can avoid the implausible claim that all moral discourse is radically mistaken. Accordingly, such a hybrid theory should be more attractive than pure expressivism or pure error theory to philosophers who are skeptical about moral facts and truth. (shrink)
The Negation Problem states that expressivism has insufficient structure to account for the various ways in which a moral sentence can be negated. We argue that the Negation Problem does not arise for expressivist accounts of all normative language but arises only for the specific examples on which expressivists usually focus. In support of this claim, we argue for the following three theses: 1) A problem that is structurally identical to the Negation Problem arises in non-normative (...) cases, and this problem is solved once the hidden quantificational structure involved in such cases is uncovered; 2) the terms ‘required’, ‘permissible’, and ‘forbidden’ can also be analyzed in terms of hidden quantification over a normative primitive, and the Negation Problem disappears once this hidden structure is uncovered; 3) the Negation Problem does not arise for normative language that has no hidden quantificational structure. We conclude that the Negation Problem is not really a problem about expressivism at all but is rather a feature of the quantificational structure of the required, permitted, and forbidden. (shrink)
I argue that Frege's so-called "concept 'horse' problem" is not one problem but many. When these separate sub-problems are distinguished, some are revealed to be more tractable than others. I further argue that there is, contrary to a widespread scholarly assumption originating with Peter Geach, little evidence that Frege was concerned with the general problem of the inexpressibility of logical category distinctions in writings available to Wittgenstein. In consequence, Geach is mistaken in thinking that in the Tractatus (...) Wittgenstein simply accepts from Frege certain lessons about the inexpressibility of logical category distinctions and the say-show distinction. In truth, Wittgenstein drew his own morals about these matters, quite possibly as the result of reflecting on how the general problem of the inexpressibility of logical category distinctions arises in Frege's writings (whether Frege was aware of it or not), but also, quite possibly, by seeing certain glimmerings of these doctrines in the writings of Russell. (shrink)
I here propose a hitherto unnoticed possibility of solving embedding problems for noncognitivist expressivists in metaethics by appeal to Conceptual Role Semantics. I show that claims from the latter as to what constitutes various concepts can be used to define functions from states expressed by atomic sentences to states expressed by complex sentences, thereby allowing an expressivist semantics that satisfies a rather strict compositionality constraint (as well as a further, substantial explanatory constraint). The proposal can be coupled with several different (...) types of concept individuation claim (e.g., normative or causal-functional), and is shown to pave the way to novel accounts for, e.g., negation. (shrink)
Aesthetic judgements are autonomous, as many other judgements are not: for the latter, but not the former, it is sometimes justifiable to change one's mind simply because several others share a different opinion. Why is this? One answer is that claims about beauty are not assertions at all, but expressions of aesthetic response. However, to cover more than just some of the explananda, this expressivism needs combining with some analogue of cognitive command, i.e. the idea that disagreements over beuaty can (...) occur, and when they do it is a priori that one side has infringed the norms governing aesthetic discourse. This combination can be achieved by reading Kant’s aesthetic theory in expressivist terms. The resulting view is a form of quasi-realism about beauty. The position has its merits, but cannot ultimately explain the phenomena which motivate it. This conclusion generalises to quasi-realism about other matters. (shrink)
The basic idea of expressivism is that for some sentences ‘P’, believing that P is not just a matter of having an ordinary descriptive belief. This is a way of capturing the idea that the meaning of some sentences either exceeds their factual/descriptive content or doesn’t consist in any particular factual/descriptive content at all, even in context. The paradigmatic application for expressivism is within metaethics, and holds that believing that stealing is wrong involves having some kind of desire-like attitude, with (...) world-tomind direction of fit, either in place of, or in addition to, being in a representational state of mind with mind-to-world direction of fit. Because expressivists refer to the state of believing that P as the state of mind ‘expressed’ by ‘P’, this view can also be described as the view that ‘stealing is wrong’ expresses a state of mind that involves a desire-like attitude instead of, or in addition to, a representational state of mind. According to some expressivists - unrestrained expressivists, as I’ll call them - there need be no special relationship among the different kinds of state of mind that can be expressed by sentences. Pick your favorite state of mind, the unrestrained expressivist allows, and there could, at least in principle, be a sentence that expressed it. Expressivists who seem to have been unrestrained plausibly include Ayer in Language, Truth, and Logic, and Simon Blackburn in many of his writings, including his , , and.. (shrink)
Simon Blackburnâ€™s expressivist logic of attitudes aims to explain how we can use non-assertoric moral judgements in logically valid arguments. Patricia Marino has recently argued that Blackburnâ€™s logic faces a dilemma: either it cannot account for the place of moral dilemmas in moral reasoning or, if it can, it makes an illicit distinction between two different kinds of moral dilemma. Her target is the logicâ€™s definition of validity as satisfiability, according to which validity requires an avoidance of attitudinal inconsistency. Against (...) Marinoâ€™s arguments, I contend that expressivists following Blackburn are able to show how we appreciate the validity of arguments found in dilemma-contexts, and that Marinoâ€™s argument concerning the distinction between contingent moral dilemmas and logical moral dilemmas rests on a mistake concerning the logical representation of a contingent dilemma. (shrink)
Contemporary expressivists typically deny that all true judgments must represent reality. Many instead adopt truth minimalism, according to which there is no substantive property of judgments in virtue of which they are true. In this article, I suggest that expressivists would be better suited to adopt truth pluralism, or the view that there is more than one substantive property of judgments in virtue of which judgments are true. My point is not that an expressivism that takes this form is true, (...) but that it more readily accommodates the motivations that typically lead expressivists to their view in the first place. (shrink)
Emotivists hold that moral opinions are wishes and desires, and that the function of moral language is to “express” such states. But if moral opinions were but wishes or desires, why would we see certain opinions as inconsistent with, or following from other opinions? And why should our reasoning include complex opinions such as the opinion that a person ought to be blamed only if he has done something wrong? Indeed, why would we think that anything is conditional on his (...) doing something wrong unless “doing something wrong” signifies a real kind of action? -/- Many have believed, and seemingly on good grounds, that these questions lack good answers, and that emotivism is doomed for that very reason. What I will argue, however, is that once emotivism is recognized for what it is, namely an empirical theory about the psychological nature of moral opinions, and once we relate it to a general theory of human reasoning, moral reasoning and intuitions of inconsistency and consequence are only to be expected. Recent objections to earlier emotivist or “expressivist” accounts can thus be met, and the phenomena of inconsistency and consequence fully embraced by emotivists. (shrink)
On an expressivist view, ethical claims are understood as expressions of our attitudes, desires, and feelings. A famous puzzle for this view concerns the use of logic in ethical reasoning, and two standard treatments try to solve the puzzle by explaining logical inconsistency in terms of conflicting attitudes. I argue, however, that this general strategy fails: because we can reason effectively even in the presence of conflicting moral attitudes – in cases of moral dilemmas – avoiding these conflicts cannot be (...) a ground for correct moral reasoning. The result is a dilemma for expressivists: if they take all kinds of attitudes to be under consideration, then conflict cannot play the required role, since attitudes can fail to be compatible in cases of moral conflict. If they restrict attention to ‘all-in attitudes’ or to intentions or plans, then there is an important notion of obligation, used in standard arguments – one for which conflicts are allowed – that they fail to capture. I explain why expressivists should be especially tolerant of conflicting attitudes, and I conclude that they should pursue a different strategy for grounding logical normativity. (shrink)
After presenting a simple expressivist account of reports of probabilistic judgements, I explore a classic problem for it, namely the Frege-Geachproblem. I argue that it is a problem not just for expressivism but for any reasonable account of ascriptions of graded judgements. I suggest that the problem can be resolved by appropriately modelling imprecise credences.
I consider a recent attempt by Mark Schroeder in his book Being For to provide an expressivist semantics for the connectives, and I argue that it does not, as it claims, answer the ‘Frege-Geach objection&rsquo.
P. T. Geach, notoriously, holds the Relative Identity Thesis, according to which a meaningful judgment of identity is always, implicitly or explicitly, relative to some general term. ‘The same’ is a fragmentary expression, and has no significance unless we say or mean ‘the same X’, where ‘X’ represents a general term (what Frege calls a Begriffswort or Begriffsausdruck). (P. T. Geach, Mental Acts (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957), p. 69. I maintain that it makes no sense to judge whether (...) things are ‘the same’, or remain ‘the same’, unless we add or understand some general term - ‘the same F’. (P. T. Geach, Reference and Generality, third Edition (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1980), pp. 63f. I am arguing for the thesis that identity is relative. When one says ‘x is identical with y’, this, I hold, is an incomplete expression; it is short for ‘x is the same A as y’, where ‘A’ represents some count noun understood from the context of utterance - or else, it is just a vague expression of a half-formed thought. (P. T. Geach, ‘Identity,’ Review of Metaphysics 21 (1967-8), p. 3.) One of the ways Geach seeks to support this is by tying it to the well nigh universally admired Fregean thesis about cardinality. (shrink)
This paper continues a thread in Analysis begun by Adam Rieger and Nicholas Denyer. Rieger argued that Frege’s theory of thoughts violates Cantor’s theorem by postulating as many thoughts as concepts. Denyer countered that Rieger’s construction could not show that the thoughts generated are always distinct for distinct concepts. By focusing on universally quantified thoughts, rather than thoughts that attribute a concept to an individual, I give a different construction that avoids Denyer’s problem. I also note that this (...) class='Hi'>problem for Frege’s philosophy was discovered by Bertrand Russell as early as 1902 and has been discussed intermittently since. (shrink)
En este articulo relaciono dos asuntos que no se relacionan comunmente en la literatura sobre Frege: el argumento de Frege sobre la interpretacion de las oraciones de identidad y su problema de referirse a las funciones. Primero expongo el argumento y concluyo que es plausible. Luego caracterizo las relaciones semanticas que el argumento le permite introducir. A continuacion trato el problema antes mencionado y muestro corno afecta a la semantica de Frege: esas relaciones semanticas se vuelven innominables y, por tanto, (...) su seolantica resulta ser inexpresable. Finalmente considero una solucion posible a este probierna.In this paper, I relate two items not commonly related in the literature on Frege: Frege’s argument on the interpretation of identity statements and his problem of referring to functions. First, I expound the argument and conclude that it is sound. Second, I characterize the semantical relations which the argument allows him to introduce. In what follows, I deal with the above mentioned problem and show how it affects Frege’s semantics: those semantical relations become unnameable and, therefore, his semantics turns out to be unexpressible. I consider a possible solution of this problem. (shrink)
This paper offers an explanation of how philosophy of science in the second half of the 20th century came to be so conspicuously silent on the problem of how to explain the applicability of mathematics. It examines the idea of the early logicists that the analyticity of mathematics accounts for its applicability, and how this idea was transformed during Carnap's efforts to establish a consistent and substantial philosophy of mathematics within the larger framework of Logical Empiricism. I argue that (...) at the end point of this development, philosophical discussion of the applicability problem was terminated although important aspects of the logicists' original response to the applicability problem had had to be sacrificed along the way. (shrink)
Expressivists distinguish between two languages: the descriptive and the normative. The moral sentences belonging to the latter do not state facts, therefore have no truth conditions and only express moral approval or disapproval towards the evaluated object. This proposition faced the charge that it is possible to find unasserted semantic contexts in which moral sentences appear to be true (Frege-Geach objection). The paper shows how Blackburn (1988) dealt with this problem. We go on to argue that in order (...) to accept Blackburn's solution one needs to have a clear concept of what it is 'to express'. We show which conditions this relation has to fulfill so as to make the theory of expressivism coherent. Using as examples two popular notions of expression relation - expression as a symptom (Husserl, Ajdukiewicz, Ossowska) and expression as a causal relation (Ayer) - we demonstrate that neither of these notions is adequate for the expressivists' purposes, which leads to the conclusion that expression relation remains mysterious and there is a serious gap in the theory. (shrink)