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).
......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.....
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-Geach problem.
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.
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-Geach Problem, 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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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-Geach problem. 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)
After presenting a simple expressivist account of reports of probabilistic judgements, I explore a classic problem for it, namely the Frege-Geach problem. 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.
A difficulty is exposed in Allan Gibbard's solution to the embedding/Frege-Geach problem, 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.
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-Geach problem. 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)
There are plausible objections to substitutional construals of generalization. But these objections do not apply to a substitutional construal of generalization proposed by Peter Geach several years ago. This paper examines Geach’s conception.
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)
This article explores Gareth Evans’s idea that there are such things as descriptive names, i.e. referring expressions introduced by a definite description which have, unlike ordinary names, a descriptive content. Several ignored semantic and modal aspects of this idea are spelled out, including a hitherto little explored notion of rigidity, super-rigidity. The claim that descriptive names are (rigidified) descriptions, or abbreviations thereof, is rejected. It is then shown that Evans’s theory leads to certain puzzles concerning the referential status of descriptive (...) names and the evaluation of identity statements containing them. A tentative solution to these puzzles is suggested, which centres on the treatment of definite descriptions as referring expressions. (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)