Moral Language

Edited by Justin Snedegar (University of St. Andrews)
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  1. The Disunity of Moral Judgment: Evidence and Implications.David Sackris & Rasmus Rosenberg Larsen - 2022 - Philosophical Psychology 1:1-20.
    We argue that there is significant evidence for reconsidering the possibility that moral judgment constitutes a distinctive category of judgment. We begin by reviewing evidence and arguments from neuroscience and philosophy that seem to indicate that a diversity of brain processes result in verdicts that we ordinarily consider “moral judgments”. We argue that if these findings are correct, this is plausible reason for doubting that all moral judgments necessarily share common features: if diverse brain processes give rise to what we (...)
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  2. Practical Commitment in Normative Discourse.Pekka Vayrynen - 2022 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 21 (2).
    Many normative judgments play a practical role in our thought. This paper concerns how their practical role is reflected in language. It is natural to wonder whether the phenomenon is semantic or pragmatic. The standard assumption in moral philosophy is that at least terms which can be used to express “thin” normative concepts – such as 'good', 'right', and 'ought' – are associated with certain practical roles somehow as a matter of meaning. But this view is rarely given explicit defense (...)
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  3. The Metaethics of Maat.Kevin DeLapp - 2019 - In Colin Marshall (ed.), Comparative Metaethics: Neglected Perspectives on the Foundations of Morality. pp. 19-39.
    This essay attempts to recover the ancient Egyptian category of "maat" as a valuable resource for contemporary metaethics and particular attention is given to its affinity with versions of modern non-cognitivism.
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  4. Richard Price e la fallacia definizionistica.Francesco Allegri - 2003 - In Rosaria Egidi, Mario De Caro & Massimo Dell'Utri (eds.), Normativity, Facts, and Values. Macerata, Italia: Quodlibet. pp. 261-268.
  5. Richard Price e la fallacia definizionistica.Francesco Allegri - 2003 - In M. Dell’Utri R. Egidi (ed.), Normatività, Fatti, Valori. Macerata, Italia: Quodlibet. pp. 261-268.
  6. Was ist Gewalt? Philosophische Untersuchung zu einem umstrittenen Begriff.Dietrich Schotte - 2020 - Frankfurt am Main, Deutschland: Vittorio Klostermann.
    Unlike other subjects of philosophy, violence is a familiar part of our everyday life, even if we usually encounter it primarily in the news. But does this mean that we already know what “violence” really is? So it would seem. Yet on second, philosophically mindful thoughts it becomes apparent that this seemingly trivial question is anything but easy to answer. This book offers a critical enquiry of the concept of violence, including detailed discussions of the concepts of collective and institutionalized (...)
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  7. Ugliness Is in the Gut of the Beholder.Ryan P. Doran - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    I offer the first sustained defence of the claim that ugliness is constituted by the disposition to disgust. I advance three main lines of argument in support of this thesis. First, ugliness and disgustingness tend to lie in the same kinds of things and properties (the argument from ostensions). Second, the thesis is better placed than all existing accounts to accommodate the following facts: ugliness is narrowly and systematically distributed in a heterogenous set of things, ugliness is sometimes enjoyed, and (...)
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  8. Grundbok i metaetik.Nils Franzén, Victor Moberger & Olle Risberg - 2021 - Stockholm: Studentlitteratur.
    Metaetiken behandlar filosofiska frågor om hur moraliska påståenden, moraliska uppfattningar, moraliska fakta och moralisk kunskap är beskaffade – liksom frågan om sådana fakta och sådan kunskap överhuvudtaget finns. I centrum för denna introduktionsbok står frågan om moralen är objektiv – hur ska denna fråga förstås och hur kan olika svar på den försvaras? I relation till denna fråga diskuteras en rad besläktade ämnen, bland annat gällande moralisk oenighet, förhållandet mellan moral och vetenskap och frågan om moraliska övertygelser kan vara mer (...)
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  9. A Sensibilist Explanation of Imaginative Resistance.Nils Franzén - 2021 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy (3):159-174.
    This article discusses why it is the case that we refuse to accept strange evaluative claims as being true in fictions, even though we are happy to go along with other types of absurdities in such contexts. For instance, we would refuse to accept the following statement as true, even in the con-text of a fiction: -/- (i) In killing her baby, Giselda did the right thing; after all, it was a girl. -/- This article offers a sensibilist diagnosis of (...)
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  10. “Ought” and Intensionality.Junhyo Lee - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):4621-4643.
    The syntactic structure of the deontic “ought” has been much debated in philosophy and linguistics. Schroeder argues that the deontic “ought” is syntactically ambiguous in the sense that it can be associated with either a control or raising construction. He distinguishes between deliberative and evaluative “ought”s and argues that the deliberative “ought” is control while the evaluative “ought” is raising. However, if there is a control sense of “ought,” it implies that there is a sense of “ought” in which the (...)
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  11. Ethics and Language.Charles Leslie Stevenson - 1944 - Yale University Press.
    A book on the problems of ethics from the perspective of language and meaning.
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  12. Noncognitivism in Metaethics and the Philosophy of Action.Samuel Asarnow - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
    Noncognitivism about normative judgment is the view that normative judgment is a distinctive kind of mental state, identical neither to belief or desire, but desire-like in its functional role and direction of fit. Noncognitivism about intention is the view that intention is a distinctive kind of mental state, identical neither to belief or desire, but desire-like in its functional role and direction of fit. While these theories are alike in several ways, they have rarely been discussed in concert. This paper (...)
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  13. The Driving Forces of Metaethics.Andrew Forcehimes - 2017 - In Steven M. Cahn & Andrew T. Forcehimes (eds.), Foundations of Moral Philosophy. New York, NY, USA: pp. 3-19.
    This essay serves as a general introduction to metaethics, highlighting the ideas that drive us toward or away from the various theories.
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  14. Foundations of Moral Philosophy: Readings in Metaethics.Steven M. Cahn & Andrew T. Forcehimes (eds.) - 2016 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
    Foundations of Moral Philosophy: Readings in Metaethics is a comprehensive collection of fifty-six contemporary readings and historical sources on major issues in metaethics. It focuses on the meaning of moral terms, the nature of moral psychology, whether we can know moral truths (if there are any), and the role of moral reasons. The book features unparalleled representation of women philosophers, with one-third of the contemporary articles authored or coauthored by women. Wherever appropriate, the articles have been carefully edited to ensure (...)
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  15. Justice, Thick Versus Thin.Brent G. Kyle - forthcoming - In Mortimer Sellers & Stephan Kirste (eds.), Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy.
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  16. Confusion of Tongues: A Theory of Normative Language By Stephen Finlay.Stephen Finlay - 2020 - Analysis 80 (1):99-101.
    This is a short precis of my 2014 book Confusion of Tongues: A Theory of Normative Language, accompanying my Reply to Worsnip, Dowell, and Koehn in the same volume.
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  17. How It All Relates : Exploring the Space of Value Comparisons.Henrik Andersson - 2017 - Dissertation, Lund University
    This thesis explores whether the three standard value relations, “better than”, “worse than” and “equally as good”, exhaust the possibilities in which things can relate with respect to their value. Or more precisely, whether there are examples in which one of these relations is not instantiated. There are cases in which it is not obvious that one of these relations does obtain; these are referred to as “hard cases of comparison”. These hard cases of comparison become interesting, since if it (...)
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  18. Lei de Hume e falácia naturalista.Ricardo Tavares Da Silva - 2016 - Anatomia Do Crime 4:187-204.
  19. Berkeley, Expressivism, and Pragmatism.Piotr K. Szałek - 2019 - Forum Philosophicum: International Journal for Philosophy 24 (2):435-456.
    There is a long-standing dispute among scholars concerning Berkeley’s supposed commitment to an emotivist theory of meaning as the very first instance of non-cognitivism. According to this position, the domains of religious and moral language do not refer to facts about the world, but rather express the emotional attitudes of religious or moral language users. Some scholars involved in the dispute argue for taking Berkeley to be an emotivist, while others hold that we should not do so. This paper puts (...)
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  20. Classical Emotivism: Charles L. Stevenson.Alberto Oya - 2019 - Bajo Palabra 22:309-326.
    The aim of this paper is to reconstruct Charles L. Stevenson’s metaethical view. Since his metaethical view is a form of emotivism, I will start by explaining what the core claims of emotivism are. I will then explore and comment on the specific claims of Stevenson’s proposal. Last, I will offer an overview of the objections that have traditionally been raised against emotivism.
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  21. Metasemantics for the Relaxed.Christine Tiefensee - forthcoming - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Vol. 16. Oxford:
    In this paper, I develop a metasemantics for relaxed moral realism. More precisely, I argue that relaxed realists should be inferentialists about meaning and explain that the role of evaluative moral vocabulary is to organise and structure language exit transitions, much as the role of theoretical vocabulary is to organise and structure language entry transitions.
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  22. Testing for Intrinsic Value, for Us as We Are.Daniel Coren - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-26.
    Philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Brentano, Moore, and Chisholm suggest marks of intrinsic value. Contemporary philosophers such as Christine Korsgaard have insightful discussions of intrinsic value. But how do we verify that some specific thing really is intrinsically valuable? I propose a natural way to test for intrinsic value: first, strip the candidate bare of all considerations of good consequences; and, second, see if what remains is still a good thing. I argue that we, as ordinary human beings, have (...)
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  23. On Linguistic Evidence for Expressivism.Andrés Soria Ruiz & Isidora Stojanovic - 2019 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 86:155-180.
    This paper argues that there is a class of terms, or uses of terms, that are best accounted for by an expressivist account. We put forward two sets of criteria to distinguish between expressive and factual terms. The first set relies on the action-guiding nature of expressive language. The second set relies on the difference between one's evidence for making an expressive vs. factual statement. We then put those criteria to work to show, first, that the basic evaluative adjectives such (...)
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  24. Reply to Bykvist and Olson.Matti Eklund - 2019 - Utilitas 31 (3):347-349.
    Reply to Krister Bykvist and Jonas Olson's review of Choosing Normative Concepts (OUP, 2017) in Utilitas.
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  25. Relationality and Commitment: Ethics and Ontology in Heidegger's Aristotle.Nicolai Krejberg Knudsen - 2019 - Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 50 (4):337-357.
    This article discusses the tension between social relationality and self-relationality central to Heidegger’s ontology of Dasein and the possible ways of reconciling this tension. Arguing that this is a tension between communicability and existential commitments, the article poses the question: How are existential commitments responsive to communication? After problematizing the quasi-Kantian and communitarian ways of settling the tension, the article uses Heidegger’s early reading of Aristotle to develop a third hermeneutic model of ethical relationality according to which existential commitments are (...)
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  26. Reasons, Oughts, and Requirements.Justin Snedegar - 2016 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 11:155-181.
    This paper raises a challenge for the recently popular reasons first approach to normativity, according to which all normative notions can be explained in terms of reasons. The reasons first theorist owes us an account of how these explanations go for all other normative notions. I focus here on requirement, and to a lesser extent, permission. There is a very plausible, widely accepted account of the relationship between your reasons and what you ought to do|roughly, what you ought to do (...)
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  27. Our Knowledge of Right and Wrong.Jonathan Harrison - 1971 - London: George Allen and Unwin.
  28. Locating Value in Moral Progress.Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (1):137-52.
    The endeavour to locate value in moral progress faces various substantive as well as more formal challenges. This paper focuses on challenges of the latter kind. After some preliminaries, Section 3 introduces two general kinds of “evaluative moral progress-claims”, and outlines a possible novel analysis of a descriptive notion of moral progress. While Section 4 discusses certain logical features of betterness in light of recent work in value theory which are pertinent to the notion of moral progress, Sections 5 and (...)
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  29. An Enquiry Into Goodness. [REVIEW]T. W. J. - 1959 - Review of Metaphysics 12 (4):667-667.
    From the apparently simple formula "To say that x is good is to say that it is such as to satisfy the wants of the person or persons concerned," Sparshott develops a subtle and self-critical analysis of evaluative language, incorporating much of classical and very recent ethical theory. A stimulating treatise.--J. T. W.
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  30. Advice for Non-Analytical Naturalists.Janice Dowell, J. L. & David Sobel - 2017 - In Simon Kirchin (ed.), Reading Parfit. Routledge. pp. 153-171.
    We argue that Parfit's "Triviality Objection" against some naturalistic views of normativity is not compelling. We think that once one accepts, as one should, that identity statements can be informative in virtue of their pragmatics and not only in virtue of their semantics, Parfit's case against naturalism can be overcome.
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  31. What Are Thick Concepts?Matti Eklund - 2011 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (1):25-49.
    Many theorists hold that there is, among value concepts, a fundamental distinction between thin ones and thick ones. Among thin ones are concepts like good and right. Among concepts that have been regarded as thick are discretion, caution, enterprise, industry, assiduity, frugality, economy, good sense, prudence, discernment, treachery, promise, brutality, courage, coward, lie, gratitude, lewd, perverted, rude, glorious, graceful, exploited, and, of course, many others. Roughly speaking, thick concepts are value concepts with significant descriptive content. I will discuss a number (...)
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  32. Ethics After Babel: The Languages of Morals and Their Discontents.Jeffrey Stout - 2000 - Princeton University Press.
    A fascinating study of moral languages and their discontents, Ethics after Babel explains the links that connect contemporary moral philosophy, religious ethics, and political thought in clear, cogent, even conversational prose. Princeton's paperback edition of this award-winning book includes a new postscript by the author that responds to the book's noted critics, Stanley Hauerwas and the late Alan Donagan. In answering his critics, Jeffrey Stout clarifies the book's arguments and offers fresh reasons for resisting despair over the prospects of democratic (...)
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Moral Semantics
  1. Why Formal Objections to the Error Theory Are Sound.Christine Tiefensee & Gregory Wheeler - forthcoming - Analysis.
    Recent debate about the error theory has taken a ‘formal turn’. On the one hand, there are those who argue that the error theory should be rejected because of its difficulties in providing a convincing formal account of the logic and semantics of moral claims. On the other hand, there are those who claim that such formal objections fail, maintaining that arguments against the error theory must be of a substantive rather than a formal kind. In this paper, we argue (...)
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  2. On Evaluative Imprecision.Teruji Thomas - 2022 - In Jeff McMahan, Timothy Campbell, Ketan Ramakrishnan & Jimmy Goodrich (eds.), Ethics and Existence: The Legacy of Derek Parfit. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 478-497.
    This chapter presents several arguments related to Parfit's notion of evaluative imprecision and his imprecisionist lexical view of population ethics. After sketching Parfit's view, it argues that, contrary to Parfit, imprecision and lexicality are both compatible with thinking about goodness in terms of positions on a scale of value. Then, by examining the role that imprecision is meant to play in defusing spectrum argument, it suggests that imprecision should be identified with vagueness. Next, it argues that there is space for (...)
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  3. Metalinguistic Negotiations in Moral Disagreement.Renée Jorgensen Bolinger - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (3):352-380.
    The problem of moral disagreement has been presented as an objection to contextualist semantics for ‘ought’, since it is not clear that contextualism can accommodate or give a convincing gloss of such disagreement. I argue that independently of our semantics, disagreements over ‘ought’ in non-cooperative contexts are best understood as indirect metalinguistic disputes, which is easily accommodated by contextualism. If this is correct, then rather than posing a problem for contextualism, the data from moral disagreements provides some reason to adopt (...)
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  4. Defending the Kratzerian Presuppositional Error Theory.Elliot Salinger - 2021 - Analysis 81 (4):701–709.
    This paper provides a new solution to the problem of moral permissions for the moral error theory. The problem is that the error theorist seems committed to the claim that all actions are morally permitted, as well as to the contradictory claim that no action is morally permitted. My solution understands the moral error theory as the view that folk moral discourse is systematically in error by virtue of suffering from semantic presupposition failure, which I show is consistent with a (...)
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  5. Theory-Indexed Moral Contextualism. Pyro - 2021 - Esercizi Filosofici 1 (16):59-70.
    One way to understand the nature of our moral disagreements is to study the meaning of moral discourse. Nonetheless, Metaethical Theories that account for these disagreements face important challenges. For instance, if our theory of moral terms assigns them a reference too specifically related to a contextual parameter, we might be ruling out the substantiality of moral disagreements (e.g., while ‘To eat people is wrong’ is plausibly true relative to our culture, it’d be false for a community of cannibals). This (...)
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  6. Getting a Moral Thing Into a Thought: Metasemantics for Non-Naturalists.Preston J. Werner - 2020 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 140-169.
    Non-naturalism is the view that normative properties are response-independent, irreducible to natural properties, and causally inefficacious. An underexplored question for non-naturalism concerns the metasemantics of normative terms. Ideally, the non-naturalist could remain ecumenical, but it appears they cannot. Call this challenge the metasemantic challenge. This chapter suggests that non-naturalists endorse an epistemic account of reference determination of the sort recently defended by Imogen Dickie, with some modifications. An important implication of this account is that, if correct, a fully fleshed out (...)
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  7. Book Review: The Meaning of 'Ought': Beyond Descriptivism and Expressivism in Metaethics. [REVIEW]Theptawee Chokvasin - 2016 - Suranaree Journal of Social Science 10:165-168.
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  8. Why Formal Objections to the Error Theory Fail.Bart Streumer & Daniel Wodak - 2021 - Analysis 81 (2):254-262.
    Many philosophers argue that the error theory should be rejected because it is incompatible with standard deontic logic and semantics. We argue that such formal objections to the theory fail. Our discussion has two upshots. First, it increases the dialectical weight that must be borne by objections to the error theory that target its content rather than its form. Second, it shows that standard deontic logic and semantics should be revised.
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  9. Inheritance: Professor Procrastinate and the Logic of Obligation.Kyle Blumberg & John Hawthorne - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Inheritance is the principle that deontic `ought' is closed under entailment. This paper is about a tension that arises in connection with Inheritance. More specifically, it is about two observations that pull in opposite directions. One of them raises questions about the validity of Inheritance, while the other appears to provide strong support for it. We argue that existing approaches to deontic modals fail to provide us with an adequate resolution of this tension. In response, we develop a positive analysis, (...)
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  10. Maitzen’s Objection From God’s Goodness.Philipp Kremers - forthcoming - Sophia:1-18.
    Stephen Maitzen argues that divine command metaethics must be mistaken because it is committed to the implausible assumption that the sentence ‘God is (morally) good’ is a tautology. In this article, I show that a charitable interpretation of R. M. Adams’ version of divine command metaethics is not committed to accept this assumption. I conclude that Maitzen’s objection merely manages to refute a strawman version of divine command metaethics.
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  11. Errata: The Normative Stance.Marcus Arvan - manuscript
    Due to a production error, two block-quotations were originally omitted from the final publication. These passages have been corrected in the web-version on the journal’s website (DOI: 10.1111/phil.12282), but cannot be corrected in the print/PDF version. Readers of the PDF version, please note the two corrections herein.
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  12. Separating the Evaluative From the Descriptive: An Empirical Study of Thick Concepts.Pascale Willemsen & Kevin Reuter - 2021 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 10 (2):135-146.
    Thick terms and concepts, such as honesty and cruelty, are at the heart of a variety of debates in philosophy of language and metaethics. Central to these debates is the question of how the descriptive and evaluative components of thick concepts are related and whether they can be separated from each other. So far, no empirical data on how thick terms are used in ordinary language has been collected to inform these debates. In this paper, we present the first empirical (...)
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  13. Normativity, Necessity and Tense: A Recipe for Homebaked Normativity.Stephen Finlay - 2010 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Volume 5. Oxford University Press.
    Normative concepts have a special taste, which many consider to be proof that they cannot be reductively analyzed into entirely nonnormative components. This paper demonstrates that at least some intuitively normative concepts can be reductively analyzed. I focus on so-called ‘hypothetical imperatives’ or ‘anankastic conditionals’, and show that the availability of normative readings of conditionals is determined by features of grammar, specifically features of tense. Properly interpreted, these grammatical features suggest that these deontic modals are analyzable in terms of conditional (...)
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  14. Metaethics for Neo-Pragmatists: A Pragmatic Account of Linguistic Meaning for Moral Vocabulary.Thomas Wilk - 2019 - Dissertation, Johns Hopkins University
    In this dissertation, I aim to develop and defend a novel, pragmatist approach to foundational questions about meaning, especially the meaning of deontic moral vocabulary. Drawing from expressivists and inferentialists, I argue that meaning is best explained by the various kinds of norms that govern the use of a vocabulary. Along with inferential norms, I argue we must extend our account to discursive norms that govern normative statuses required to felicitously utter certain speech-acts—norms of authority—and the transitions in normative statuses (...)
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  15. Evaluational Adjectives.Alex Silk - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (1):1-35.
    This paper demarcates a theoretically interesting class of "evaluational adjectives." This class includes predicates expressing various kinds of normative and epistemic evaluation, such as predicates of personal taste, aesthetic adjectives, moral adjectives, and epistemic adjectives, among others. Evaluational adjectives are distinguished, empirically, in exhibiting phenomena such as discourse-oriented use, felicitous embedding under the attitude verb `find', and sorites-susceptibility in the comparative form. A unified degree-based semantics is developed: What distinguishes evaluational adjectives, semantically, is that they denote context-dependent measure functions ("evaluational (...)
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  16. Practical Expressivism.Neil Sinclair - 2021 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    What is morality? In Practical Expressivism, I argue that morality is a purely natural interpersonal co-ordination device, whereby human beings express their attitudes in order to influence the attitudes and actions of others. -/- The ultimate goal of these expressions is to find acceptable ways of living together. This 'expressivist' model for understanding morality faces well-known challenges concerning 'saving the appearances' of morality, because morality presents itself to us as a practice of objective discovery, not pure expression. -/- This book (...)
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  17. Evaluative Discourse and Affective States of Mind.Nils Franzén - 2020 - Mind 129 (516):1095-1126.
    It is widely held within contemporary metaethics that there is a lack of linguistic support for evaluative expressivism. On the contrary, it seems that the predictions that expressivists make about evaluative discourse are not borne out. An instance of this is the so-called problem of missing Moorean infelicity. Expressivists maintain that evaluative statements express non-cognitive states of mind in a similar manner to how ordinary descriptive language expresses beliefs. Conjoining an ordinary assertion that p with the denial of being in (...)
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  18. Permissibility Is the Only Feasible Deontic Primitive.Johan E. Gustafsson - 2020 - Philosophical Perspectives 34 (1):117-133.
    Moral obligation and permissibility are usually thought to be interdefinable. Following the pattern of the duality definitions of necessity and possibility, we have that something’s being permissible could be defined as its not being obligatory to not do it. And that something’s being obligatory could be defined as its not being permissible to not do it. In this paper, I argue that neither direction of this alleged interdefinability works. Roughly, the problem is that a claim that some act is obligatory (...)
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