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Profile: Matthew Chrisman (University of Edinburgh)
  1. Matthew Chrisman (2008). Ought to Believe. Journal of Philosophy 105 (7):346-370.
    My primary purpose in this paper is to sketch a theory of doxastic oughts that achieves a satisfying middle ground between the extremes of rejecting epistemic deontology because one thinks beliefs are not within our direct voluntary control and rejecting doxastic involuntarism because one thinks that some doxastic oughts must be true. The key will be appreciating the obvious fact that not all true oughts require direct voluntary control. I will construct my account as an attempt to surpass other accounts (...)
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  2. Matthew Chrisman (2008). Expressivism, Inferentialism, and Saving the Debate. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 77 (2):334 - 358.
    Theoretical reasoning aims to expand our knowledge of how the world is. Practical reasoning aims to expand our knowledge of how to behave in the world as we know it to be. Although this distinction between theoretical and practical reasoning is notoriously central to normative ethical theorizing, its significance has, I think, been underappreciated and misconstrued in the metaethical debate about realism. I suspect that this is the result of two aspects of that debate: (a) the realism debate has been (...)
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  3. Matthew Chrisman (2012). The Normative Evaluation of Belief and the Aspectual Classification of Belief and Knowledge Attributions'. Journal of Philosophy 109 (10):588–612.
    It is a piece of philosophical commonsense that belief and knowledge are states. Some epistemologists reject this claim in hope of answering certain difficult questions about the normative evaluation of belief. I shall argue, however, that this move offends not only against philosophical commonsense but also against ordinary common sense, at least as far as this is manifested in the semantic content of the words we use to talk about belief and knowledge. I think it is relatively easily to show (...)
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  4. Matthew Chrisman (2007). From Epistemic Contextualism to Epistemic Expressivism. Philosophical Studies 135 (2):225-254.
    In this paper, I exploit the parallel between epistemic contextualism and metaethical speaker-relativism to argue that a promising way out of two of the primary problems facing contextualism is one already explored in some detail in the ethical case – viz. expressivism. The upshot is an argument for a form of epistemic expressivism modeled on a familiar form of ethical expressivism. This provides a new nondescriptivist option for understanding the meaning of knowledge attributions, which arguably better captures the (...)
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  5. Matthew Chrisman (2012). Epistemic Expressivism. Philosophy Compass 7 (2):118-126.
    Epistemic expressivism is the application of a nexus of ideas, which is prominent in ethical theory (more specifically, metaethics), to parallel issues in epistemological theory (more specifically, metaepistemology). Here, in order to help those new to the debate come to grips with epistemic expressivism and recent discussions of it, I first briefly present this nexus of ideas as it occurs in ethical expressivism. Then, I explain why and how some philosophers have sought to extend it to a version of epistemic (...)
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  6. Matthew Chrisman (2012). 'Ought' and Control. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (3):433-451.
    Ethical theorists often assume that the verb ?ought? means roughly ?has an obligation?; however, this assumption is belied by the diversity of ?flavours? of ought-sentences in English. A natural response is that ?ought? is ambiguous. However, this response is incompatible with the standard treatment of ?ought? by theoretical semanticists, who classify ?ought? as a member of the family of modal verbs, which are treated uniformly as operators. To many ethical theorists, however, this popular treatment in linguistics seems to elide an (...)
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  7. Matthew Chrisman (2012). On the Meaning of 'Ought'. In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, vol. 7. Oxford University Press 304.
    Discussions about the meaning of the word “ought” are pulled in two apparently competing directions. First, in ethical theory this word is used in the paradigmatic statement of ethical principles and conclusions about what some agent is obligated to do. This leads some ethical theorists to claim that the word “ought” describes a real relation, roughly, of being obligated to (realism) or expresses some non-cognitive attitude toward agents acting in certain ways (expressivism). Second, in theoretical linguistics this word is classified (...)
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  8. J. Adam Carter & Matthew Chrisman (2012). Is Epistemic Expressivism Incompatible with Inquiry? Philosophical Studies 159 (3):323-339.
    Expressivist views of an area of discourse encourage us to ask not about the nature of the relevant kinds of values but rather about the nature of the relevant kind of evaluations. Their answer to the latter question typically claims some interesting disanalogy between those kinds of evaluations and descriptions of the world. It does so in hope of providing traction against naturalism-inspired ontological and epistemological worries threatening more ‘realist’ positions. This is a familiar position regarding ethical discourse; however, some (...)
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  9.  40
    Matthew Chrisman (2014). Attitudinal Expressivism and Logical Pragmatism. In Graham Hubbs & Douglas Lind (eds.), Pragmatism, Law, and Language. 117-135.
    Contemporary discussions of expressivism in metaethics tend to run together two quite different antidescriptivist views, and only one of them is subject to the objection about compositional semantics pressed most recently by Schroeder (following Dreier, Unwinn, Hale, Geach and others). Here I distinguish the two versions of expressivism and then go on to suggest that those sympathetic to the second sort of expressivism might improve their account of normative vocabulary and the way it figures in reasoning by (...)
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  10. Matthew Chrisman (2010). From Epistemic Expressivism to Epistemic Inferentialism. In Adrian Haddock, Alan Millar & Duncan Pritchard (eds.), Social Epistemology. Oxford University Press
    Recent philosophical debate about the meaning of knowledge claims has largely centered on the question of whether epistemic claims are plausibly thought to be context sensitive. The default assumption has been that sentences that attribute knowledge or justification have stable truth-conditions across different contexts of utterance, once any non-epistemic context sensitivity has been fixed. The contrary view is the contextualist view that such sentences do not have stable truth-conditions but can vary depending on the context of utterance. This debate manifestly (...)
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  11. Matthew Chrisman (2008). A Dilemma for Moral Fictionalism. Philosophical Books 49 (1):4-13.
    This article is a critical study of Mark Kalderon's excellent book *Moral Fictionalism*.
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  12. Matthew Chrisman (2010). Expressivism, Inferentialism, and the Theory of Meaning. In Michael Brady (ed.), New Waves in Metaethics. Palgrave-Macmillan
    One’s account of the meaning of ethical sentences should fit – roughly, as part to whole – with one’s account of the meaning of sentences in general. When we ask, though, where one widely discussed account of the meaning of ethical sentences fits with more general accounts of meaning, the answer is frustratingly unclear. The account I have in mind is the sort of metaethical expressivism inspired by Ayer, Stevenson, and Hare, and defended and worked out in more detail (...)
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  13. Matthew Chrisman (2011). 2 Ethical Expressivism. In Christian Miller (ed.), Continuum Companion to Ethics. Continuum 29.
    This is an advanced overview of ethical expressivism.
     
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  14.  21
    Matthew Chrisman (2015). Reasons as Defaults by John F. Horty. Mind 124 (495):919-924.
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    Matthew Chrisman (2015). X—Knowing What One Ought to Do. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 115 (2pt2):167-186.
    This paper considers two competing pictures of knowledge of what one ought to do—one which assimilates this to other propositional knowledge conceived as partial ‘locational’ knowledge of where one is in a space of possibilities, the other which distinguishes this from other propositional knowledge by construing it as partial ‘directional’ knowledge of what to do in particular circumstances. I argue that the apparent tension can be lessened by better understanding the contextualized modal-cum-prescriptive nature of ‘ought’ and enriching our conception of (...)
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  16. Dorit Bar-On & Matthew Chrisman (2009). Ethical Neo-Expressivism. In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, vol. 4. OUP Oxford 132-65.
    A standard way to explain the connection between ethical claims and motivation is to say that these claims express motivational attitudes. Unless this connection is taken to be merely a matter of contingent psychological regularity, it may seem that there are only two options for understanding it. We can either treat ethical claims as expressing propositions that one cannot believe without being at least somewhat motivated (subjectivism), or we can treat ethical claims as nonpropositional and as having their semantic content (...)
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  17. Matthew Chrisman (2005). Review of Alan Gibbard's Thinking How to Live. [REVIEW] Ethics 115 (2):406-412.
    I imagine that people will complain that the account of normative concepts defended in Gibbard’s new book makes the metaethical waters even muddier because it blurs the line between cognitivism and noncognitivism and between realism and antirealism. However, these labels are philosophic tools, and in the wake of Gibbard’s new book, one might rightly conclude that there are new and better philosophical tools emerging on the metaethical scene. The uptake of views about practical reasoning—as exhibited by planning—into debates about the (...)
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  18. Matthew Chrisman (2010). The Aim of Belief and the Goal of Truth. In James O.’Shea Eric Rubenstein (ed.), elf, Language, and World: Problems from Kant, Sellars, and Rosenberg. Ridgeview Publishing Co.
    Davidson, Rorty, and Rosenberg each reject, for similar reasons, the idea that truth is the aim of belief and the goal of inquiry. Rosenberg provides the most explicit and compelling argument for this provocative view. Here, with a focus on this argument, I suggest that this view is a mistake, but not for the reasons some might think. In my view, we can view truth as a constitutive aim of belief even if not a regulative goal of inquiry, if we (...)
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  19. Matthew Chrisman (2009). Expressivism, Truth, and (Self-) Knowledge. Philosophers' Imprint 9 (3):1-26.
    In this paper, I consider the prospects of two different kinds of expressivism – ethical expressivism and avowal expressivism – in light of two common objections. The first objection stems from the fact that it is natural to think of ethical statements and avowals as at least potential manifestations of knowledge. The second objection stems from the fact that it is natural to treat ethical statements and avowals as truth-evaluable. I argue that, although a recent avowal expressivist attempt (Bar-On 2004) (...)
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  20.  74
    Matthew Chrisman (2010). Constructivism, Expressivism and Ethical Knowledge. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18 (3):331-353.
    In the contemporary metaethical debate, expressivist (Blackburn, Gibbard) and constructivist (Korsgaard, Street) views can be viewed as inspired by irrealist ideas from Hume and Kant respectively. One realist response to these contemporary irrealist views is to argue that they are inconsistent with obvious surface-level appearances of ordinary ethical thought and discourse, especially the fact that we talk and act as if there is ethical knowledge . In this paper, I explore some constructivist and expressivist options for responding to this objection. (...)
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  21. Matthew Chrisman (2005). Review of Shafer-Landau's Moral Realism. [REVIEW] Ethics 116 (1):250-255.
    G. E. Moore famously argued on the basis of semantic intuitions that moral properties are not reducible to natural properties, and therefore that moral predicates refer to nonnatural properties. This clearly represents a version of “moral realism,” but it is a testament to the strength of naturalist intuitions in contemporary philosophical debate that, insofar as one accepts Moore’s arguments, this is typically seen as a boon for antirealists rather than realists. For many philosophers worry that putative nonnatural properties would be (...)
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    Matthew Chrisman (2007). From Epistemic Contextualism to Epistemic Expressivism. Philosophical Studies 135 (2):225-254.
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  23.  22
    Matthew Chrisman (2011). Using Big Words to Explain Little Words. Think 10 (29):23-36.
    Sometimes, when I go to dinner parties organized by my partner, people ask me what I do, and I say that I'm a philosopher. But when I fumble at their questions about ‘my philosophy’, my partner will describe what I do by saying, ‘He uses big words to explain little words.’ Although this is meant tongue in cheek, it's basically right. My philosophical research is mainly in metaethics and the philosophy of language with a focus on the semantics of moral (...)
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    Matthew Chrisman (2013). Emotivism. In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell
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  25.  37
    Matthew Chrisman (2007). Review of William P. Alston's Beyond Justification. [REVIEW] International Journal of Philosophical Studies 15 (2).
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  26.  21
    Matthew Chrisman, Brian Treanor, Mette Lebech, G. L. Huxley & Ciaran McGlynn (2007). Book Reviews. [REVIEW] International Journal of Philosophical Studies 15 (2):303 – 323.
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  27. Nate Charlow & Matthew Chrisman (eds.) (forthcoming). Deontic Modality. Oxford University Press.
    An extraordinary amount of recent work by philosophers of language, meta-ethicists, and semanticists has focused on the meaning and function of language expressing normative concepts having to do with what is allowed, forbidden, required, obligatory and so on, in view of the requirements of morality, the law, one’s preferences or goals, what an authority has commanded, etc.—deontic modality, for short. This volume gathers together papers on the cutting edge of recent work on deontic modality by leading figures in the philosophy (...)
     
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  28. Matthew Chrisman, Duncan Pritchard, Jane Suilin Lavelle, Michela Massimi, Alasdair Richmond & Dave Ward (2013). Philosophy for Everyone. Routledge.
    Philosophy for Everyone begins by explaining what philosophy is before exploring the questions and issues at the foundation of this important subject. Key topics and their areas of focus include: Epistemology - what our knowledge of the world and ourselves consists in, and how we come to have it; Philosophy of Science - foundational conceptual issues in scientific research and practice; Philosophy of Mind - what it means for something to have a mind, and how minds should be understood and (...)
     
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  29.  5
    Matthew Chrisman (2015). The Meaning of 'Ought': Beyond Descriptivism and Expressivism in Metaethics. Oxford University Press Usa.
    Building on a careful truth-conditionalist semantics for 'ought' considered as a modal word, Chrisman argues that ought-sentences mean what they do neither because of how they describe reality nor because of the noncognitive attitudes they express, but because of their inferential role.
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