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Profile: Neil Sinclair (Nottingham University)
  1.  66
    Neil Sinclair (forthcoming). Reasons, Inescapability and Persuasion. Philosophical Studies:1-22.
    This paper outlines a new metasemantic theory of moral reason statements, focused on explaining how the reasons thus stated can be inescapable. The motivation for the theory is in part that it can explain this and other phenomena concerning moral reasons. The account also suggests a general recipe for explanations of conceptual features of moral reason statements. (Published with Open Access.).
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  2.  25
    Neil Sinclair (forthcoming). On the Connection Between Normative Reasons and the Possibility of Acting for Those Reasons. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice:1-13.
    According to Bernard Williams, if it is true that A has a normative reason to Φ then it must be possible that A should Φ for that reason. This claim is important both because it restricts the range of reasons which agents can have and because it has been used as a premise in an argument for so-called ‘internalist’ theories of reasons. In this paper I rebut an apparent counterexamples to Williams’ claim: Schroeder’s example of Nate. I argue that this (...)
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  3. Neil Sinclair (2012). Promotionalism, Motivationalism and Reasons to Perform Physically Impossible Actions. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (5):647-659.
    In this paper I grant the Humean premise that some reasons for action are grounded in the desires of the agents whose reasons they are. I then consider the question of the relation between the reasons and the desires that ground them. According to promotionalism , a desire that p grounds a reason to φ insofar as A’s φing helps promote p . According to motivationalism a desire that p grounds a reason to φ insofar as it explains why, in (...)
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  4. Neil Sinclair (2012). Expressivism and the Value of Truth. Philosophia 40 (4):877-883.
    This paper is a reply to Michael Lynch's "Truth, Value and Epistemic Expressivism" in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research for 2009. It argues that Lynch's argument against expressivism fails because of an ambiguity in the employed notion of an 'epistemically disengaged standpoint'.
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  5. Neil Sinclair (2012). Moral Realism, Face-Values and Presumptions. Analytic Philosophy 53 (2):158-179.
    Many philosophers argue that the face-value of moral practice provides presumptive support to moral realism. This paper analyses such arguments into three steps. (1) Moral practice has a certain face-value, (2) only realism can vindicate this face value, and (3) the face-value needs vindicating. Two potential problems with such arguments are discussed. The first is taking the relevant face-value to involve explicitly realist commitments; the second is underestimating the power of non-realist strategies to vindicate that face-value. Case studies of each (...)
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  6. Neil Sinclair (2011). Moral Expressivism and Sentential Negation. Philosophical Studies 152 (3):385-411.
    This paper advances three necessary conditions on a successful account of sentential negation. First, the ability to explain the constancy of sentential meaning across negated and unnegated contexts (the Fregean Condition). Second, the ability to explain why sentences and their negations are inconsistent, and inconsistent in virtue of the meaning of negation (the Semantic Condition). Third, the ability of the account to generalize regardless of the topic of the negated sentence (the Generality Condition). The paper discusses three accounts of negation (...)
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  7. Neil Sinclair (2012). Metaethics, Teleosemantics and the Function of Moral Judgements. Biology and Philosophy 27 (5):639-662.
    This paper applies the theory of teleosemantics to the issue of moral content. Two versions of teleosemantics are distinguished: input-based and output-based. It is argued that applying either to the case of moral judgements generates the conclusion that such judgements have both descriptive (belief-like) and directive (desire-like) content, intimately entwined. This conclusion directly validates neither descriptivism nor expressivism, but the application of teleosemantics to moral content does leave the descriptivist with explanatory challenges which the expressivist does not face. Since teleosemantics (...)
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  8.  89
    Neil Sinclair (2014). On Standing One's Ground. Analysis 74 (3):422-431.
    I provide a positive expressivist account of the permissibility of ‘standing one’s ground’ in some cases of moral conflict, based in part on an illustrative analogy with political disputes. This account suffices to undermine Enoch’s recent argument against expressivism.
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  9. Neil Sinclair (2012). Expressivist Explanations. Journal of Moral Philosophy 9 (2):147-177.
    In this paper I argue that the common practice of employing moral predicates as explaining phrases can be accommodated on an expressivist account of moral practice. This account does not treat moral explanations as in any way second-rate or derivative, since it subsumes moral explanations under the general theory of program explanations (as defended by Jackson and Pettit). It follows that the phenomenon of moral explanations cannot be used to adjudicate the debate between expressivism and its rivals.
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  10. Neil Sinclair (2009). Recent Work in Expressivism. Analysis 69 (1):136-147.
    This paper is a concise survey of recent expressivist theories of discourse, focusing on the ethical case. For each topic discussed recent trends are summarised and suggestions for further reading provided. Issues covered include: the nature of the moral attitude; ‘hybrid’ views according to which moral judgements express both beliefs and attitudes; the quasi-realist programmes of Simon Blackburn and Allan Gibbard; the problem of creeping minimalism; the nature of the ‘expression’ relation; the Frege-Geach problem; the problem of wishful thinking; the (...)
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  11. Neil Sinclair (2008). Free Thinking for Expressivists. Philosophical Papers 37 (2):263-287.
    This paper elaborates and defends an expressivist account of the claims of mind-independence embedded in ordinary moral thought. In response to objections from Zangwill and Jenkins it is argued that the expressivist 'internal reading' of such claims is compatible with their conceptual status and that the only 'external reading' available doesn't commit expressivisists to any sort of subjectivism. In the process a 'commitment-theoretic' account of the semantics of conditionals and negations is defended.
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  12. Neil Sinclair (2006). The Moral Belief Problem. Ratio 19 (2):249–260.
    The moral belief problem is that of reconciling expressivism in ethics with both minimalism in the philosophy of language and the syntactic discipline of moral sentences. It is argued that the problem can be solved by distinguishing minimal and robust senses of belief, where a minimal belief is any state of mind expressed by sincere assertoric use of a syntactically disciplined sentence and a robust belief is a minimal belief with some additional property R. Two attempts to specify R are (...)
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  13.  4
    Neil Sinclair, On the Connection Between Normative Reasons and the Possibility of Acting for Those Reasons.
    According to Bernard Williams, if it is true that A has a normative reason to Φ then it must be possible that A should Φ for that reason. This claim is important both because it restricts the range of reasons which agents can have and because it has been used as a premise in an argument for so-called ‘internalist’ theories of reasons. In this paper I rebut an apparent counterexamples to Williams’ claim: Schroeder’s example of Nate. I argue that this (...)
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  14. Neil Sinclair (2007). Propositional Clothing and Belief. Philosophical Quarterly 57 (228):342-362.
    Moral discourse is propositionally clothed, that is, it exhibits those features – such as the ability of its sentences to intelligibly embed in conditionals and other unasserted contexts – that have been taken by some philosophers to be constitutive of discourses that express propositions. If there is nothing more to a mental state being a belief than it being characteristically expressed by sentences that are propositionally clothed then the version of expressivism which accepts that moral discourse is propositionally clothed (‘quasi-realism’) (...)
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  15. Neil Sinclair (2011). The Explanationist Argument for Moral Realism. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (1):1-24.
    In this paper I argue that the explanationist argument in favour of moral realism fails. According to this argument, the ability of putative moral properties to feature in good explanations provides strong evidence for, or entails, the metaphysical claims of moral realism. Some have rejected this argument by denying that moral explanations are ever good explanations. My criticism is different. I argue that even if we accept that moral explanations are (sometimes) good explanations the metaphysical claims of realism do not (...)
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  16. Neil Sinclair (2006). Two Kinds of Naturalism in Ethics. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 9 (4):417 - 439.
    What are the conditions on a successful naturalistic account of moral properties? In this paper I discuss one such condition: the possibility of moral concepts playing a role in good empirical theories on a par with those of the natural and social sciences. I argue that Peter Railton’s influential account of moral rightness fails to meet this condition, and thus is only viable in the hands of a naturalist who doesn’t insist on it. This conclusion generalises to all versions of (...)
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  17. Neil Sinclair (2007). Expressivism and the Practicality of Moral Convictions. Journal of Value Inquiry 41 (2-4):201-220.
    Many expressivists have employed a claim about the practicality of morality in support of their view that moral convictions are not purely descriptive mental states. In this paper I argue that all extant arguments of this form fail. I distinguish several versions of such arguments and argue that in each case either the sense of practicality the argument employs is too weak, in which case there is no reason to think that descriptive states cannot be practical or the sense of (...)
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  18.  81
    Neil Sinclair (2013). Moral Explanations. In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Blackwell
    "The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice." (Martin Luther King) -/- A moral explanation is an explanation of a particular or type of event (or fact or state of affairs) that features moral terms in the explaining phrase. Here are some examples. First, one way of the above quote is as the claim that, in the broad sweep of history, societies tend toward more just institutions, and that they do so precisely because these institutions (...)
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  19. Neil Sinclair (2011). Review: Kinds of Reasons – Maria Alvarez. [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 61 (245):873-875.
  20.  65
    Neil Sinclair (2011). Review: Reasons From Within: Desires and Values – Alan H. Goldman. [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 61 (243):427-429.
  21.  2
    Neil Sinclair, Two Kinds of Naturalism in Ethics.
    What are the conditions on a successful naturalistic account of moral properties? In this paper I discuss one such condition: the possibility of moral concepts playing a role in good empirical theories on a par with those of the natural and social sciences. I argue that Peter Railton’s influential account of moral rightness fails to meet this condition, and thus is only viable in the hands of a naturalist who doesn’t insist on it. This conclusion generalises to all versions of (...)
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  22.  48
    Simon Blackburn & Neil Sinclair (2006). Comments on Gibbard's "Thinking How to Live". [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72 (3):699 - 706.
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  23.  43
    Neil Sinclair (2007). Review: Hume, Reason, and Morality: A Legacy of Contradiction. [REVIEW] Mind 116 (463):733-736.
  24.  1
    Neil Sinclair, The Pretensions of Moral Realism.
    Many philosophers argue that the face-value of moral practice provides presumptive support to moral realism. This paper analyses such arguments into three steps. Moral practice has a certain face-value, only realism can vindicate this face value, and the face-value needs vindicating. Two potential problems with such arguments are discussed. The first is taking the relevant face-value to involve explicitly realist commitments; the second is underestimating the power of non-realist strategies to vindicate that face-value. Case studies of each of these errors (...)
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  25.  22
    Neil Sinclair (2005). Review of Shaun Nichols, Sentimental Rules: On the Natural Foundations of Moral Judgment. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2005 (10).
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  26.  1
    Simon Blackburn & Neil Sinclair (2006). Comments on Gibbard's Thinking How To Live. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72 (3):699-706.
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  27.  1
    Neil Sinclair (2011). Kinds of Reasons – Maria Alvarez. Philosophical Quarterly 61 (245):873-875.
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  28. Uri D. Leibowitz & Neil Sinclair (forthcoming). Evolution and the Missing Link (in Debunking Arguments). In Michael Ruse & Robert J. Richards (eds.), Cambridge Handbook to Evolutionary Ethics. Cambridge University Press
  29. Uri D. Leibowitz & Neil Sinclair (eds.) (2016). Explanation in Ethics and Mathematics: Debunking and Dispensability. Oxford University Press Uk.
    How far should our realism extend? For many years philosophers of mathematics and philosophers of ethics have worked independently to address the question of how best to understand the entities apparently referred to by mathematical and ethical talk. But the similarities between their endeavours are not often emphasised. This book provides that emphasis. In particular, it focuses on two types of argumentative strategies deployed in both areas. The first aims to put pressure on realism by emphasising the redundancy of mathematical (...)
     
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  30. Neil Sinclair, Expressivism and the Practicality of Moral Convictions.
    Many expressivists have employed a claim about the practicality of morality in support of their view that moral convictions are not purely descriptive mental states. In this paper I argue that all extant arguments of this form fail. I distinguish six versions of such arguments and argue that in each case either the sense of practicality the argument employs is too weak, in which case there is no reason to think that descriptive states cannot be practical or the sense of (...)
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  31. Neil Sinclair, Expressivism and the Value of Truth.
    This paper is a reply to Michael Lynch's "Truth, Value and Epistemic Expressivism" in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research for 2009. It argues that Lynch's argument against expressivism fails because of an ambiguity in the employed notion of an 'epistemically disengaged standpoint'.
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  32. Neil Sinclair, Expressivist Explanations.
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  33.  33
    Uri D. Leibowitz & Neil Sinclair (eds.) (2016). Explanation in Ethics and Mathematics: Debunking and Dispensability. Oxford University Press Uk.
    How far should our realism extend? For many years philosophers of mathematics and philosophers of ethics have worked independently to address the question of how best to understand the entities apparently referred to by mathematical and ethical talk. But the similarities between their endeavours are not often emphasised. This book provides that emphasis. In particular, it focuses on two types of argumentative strategies that have been deployed in both areas. The first—debunking arguments—aims to put pressure on realism by emphasising the (...)
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  34. Neil Sinclair, Free Thinking for Expressivists.
    This paper replies to Zangwill’s argument that quasi-realists cannot accommodate the conceptual status of claims of moral mind-independence embedded in ordinary moral thought. I argue that this conceptual status is compatible with an ‘internal reading’ of such claims once one recognises the essential co-ordinating role of moral judgement. I also argue that an ‘external reading’ is available for an ‘essentialist’ type of mind-independence claim recently identified by Jenkins.
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  35. Neil Sinclair & Uri D. Leibowitz (forthcoming). Introduction: Explanation in Ethics and Mathematics. In Uri D. Leibowitz & Neil Sinclair (eds.), Explanation in Ethics and Mathematics: Debunking and Indispensability. Oxford University Press
    Are moral properties intellectually indispensable, and, if so, what consequences does this have for our understanding of their nature, and of our talk and knowledge of them? Are mathematical objects intellectually indispensable, and, if so, what consequences does this have for our understanding of their nature, and of our talk and knowledge of them? What similarities are there, if any, in the answers to the first two questions? Can comparison of the two cases shed light on which answers are most (...)
     
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  36. Neil Sinclair, Moral Expressivism and Sentential Negation.
    This paper advances three necessary conditions on a successful account of sentential negation. First, the ability to explain the constancy of sentential meaning across negated and unnegated contexts. Second, the ability to explain why sentences and their negations are inconsistent, and inconsistent in virtue of the meaning of negation. Third, the ability of the account to generalize regardless of the topic of the negated sentence. The paper discusses three accounts of negation available to moral expressivists. The first – the ‘dominant (...)
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  37. Neil Sinclair, Propositional Clothing and Belief.
    Moral discourse is propositionally clothed, that is, it exhibits those features – such as the ability of its sentences to intelligibly embed in conditionals and other unasserted contexts – that have been taken by some philosophers to be constitutive of discourses that express propositions. If there is nothing more to a mental state being a belief than it being characteristically expressed by sentences that are propositionally clothed then the version of expressivism which accepts that moral discourse is propositionally clothed is (...)
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  38. Neil Sinclair, Promotionalism, Motivationalism and Reasons to Perform Physically Impossible Actions.
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  39. Neil Sinclair, The Explanationist Argument for Moral Realism.
    In this paper I argue that the explanationist argument in favour of moral realism fails. According to this argument, the ability of putative moral properties to feature in good explanations provides strong evidence for, or entails, the metaphysical claims of moral realism. Some have rejected this argument by denying that moral explanations are ever good explanations. My criticism is different. I argue that even if we accept that moral explanations are good explanations the metaphysical claims of realism do not follow.
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  40. Neil Sinclair, The Moral Belief Problem.
    The moral belief problem is that of reconciling expressivism in ethics with both minimalism in the philosophy of language and the syntactic discipline of moral sentences. It is argued that the problem can be solved by distinguishing minimal and robust senses of belief, where a minimal belief is any state of mind expressed by sincere assertoric use of a syntactically disciplined sentence and a robust belief is a minimal belief with some additional property R. Two attempts to specify R are (...)
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