Moral Language

Edited by Justin Snedegar (University of St. Andrews)
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  1. Normative Naturalism on Its Own Terms.Pekka Väyrynen - forthcoming - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu.
    Normative naturalism is primarily a metaphysical doctrine: there are normative facts and properties, and these fall into the class of natural facts and properties. Many objections to naturalism rely on additional assumptions about language or thought, but often without adequate consideration of just how normative properties would have to figure in our thought and talk if naturalism were true. In the first part of the paper, I explain why naturalists needn’t think that normative properties can be represented or ascribed in (...)
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  2. Ethics and Language.Charles L. Stevenson - 1944 - Yale University Press.
  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. Foundations of Moral Philosophy: Readings in Metaethics.Steven M. Cahn & Andrew Forcehimes (eds.) - 2017 - 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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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. Reply to Worsnip, Dowell, and Koehn.Stephen Finlay - 2020 - Analysis 80 (1):131-147.
    This paper responds to comments on my 2014 book Confusion of Tongues by Alex Worsnip, Janice Dowell, and Glen Koehn. I first address Worsnip’s case for contextualism without relativism. Next I address Dowell’s and Worsnip’s scepticism about whether COT succeeds in providing an analytic reduction of the normative, and Dowell’s recommendation to pursue an alternative, synthetic method. I then consider Worsnip’s comments on COT’s implications for normative ethical theory, and end by responding to Koehn’s challenges to the details of my (...)
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  9. 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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  10. Lei de Hume e falácia naturalista.Ricardo Tavares Da Silva - 2016 - Anatomia Do Crime 4:187-204.
  11. 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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  12. 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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  13. 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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  14. 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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  15. 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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  16. 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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  17. Our Knowledge of Right and Wrong.Jonathan Harrison - 1971 - London: George Allen and Unwin.
  18. 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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  19. 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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  20. 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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  21. 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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  22. 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. 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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  2. Why Formal Objections to the Error Theory Fail.Bart Streumer & Daniel Wodak - forthcoming - Analysis.
    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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. Semantics for Reasons, by Bryan Weaver and Kevin Scharp. [REVIEW]Daniel Fogal & Peter Van Elswyk - forthcoming - Ethics.
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  8. Expressivism and Explaining Irrationality: Reply to Baker.Sebastian Hengst - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-14.
    In a recent paper in this journal, Derek Baker (Erkenntnis 83(4):829–852, 2018) raises an objection to expressivism as it has been developed by Mark Schroeder (Being for, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008). Baker argues that Schroeder’s expressivist (1) is committed to certain sentences expressing rationally incoherent states of mind, and he objects (2) that the expressivist cannot explain why these states would be rationally incoherent. The aim of this paper is to show that Baker’s argument for (1) is unsound, and (...)
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  9. An Empirical Argument Against Moral Non-Cognitivism.Thomas Pölzler & Jen Wright - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    According to non-cognitivism, moral sentences and judgements do not aim to represent how things morally are. This paper presents an empirical argument against this view. We begin by showing that non-cognitivism entails the prediction that after some reflection competent ordinary speakers’ semantic intuitions favor that moral sentences and judgements do not aim to represent how things morally are. At first sight, this prediction may seem to have been confirmed by previous research on folk metaethics. However, a number of methodological worries (...)
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  10. A “Good” Explanation of Five Puzzles About Reasons.Stephen Finlay - 2019 - Philosophical Perspectives 33 (1):62-104.
    This paper champions the view (REG) that the concept of a normative reason for an agent S to perform an action A is that of an explanation why it would be good (in some way, to some degree) for S to do A. REG has numerous virtues, but faces some significant challenges which prompt many philosophers to be skeptical that it can correctly account for all our reasons. I demonstrate how five different puzzles about normative reasons can be solved by (...)
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  11. Thickness and Evaluation.Matti Eklund - 2017 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (1):89-104.
    This is a review essay devoted to Pekka Väyrynen’s The Lewd, the Rude and the Nasty. Väyrynen’s book, concerned with thick terms and thick concepts, argues for a pragmatic view on the evaluativeness associated with these terms and concepts. The essay raises a number of critical questions regarding what Väyrynen’s arguments for his view actually show. It deals with, for example, thick properties, the fact-value distinction, what it is for terms and concepts to be (semantically) evaluative, and whether Väyrynen’s arguments (...)
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  12. The Demandingness of Virtue.Wes Siscoe - forthcoming - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy.
    How demanding is the virtuous life? Can virtue exist alongside hints of vice? Is it possible to be virtuous within a vicious society? A line of thinking running through Diogenes and the Stoics is that even a hint of corruption is inimical to virtue, that participating in a vicious society makes it impossible for a person to be virtuous. One response to this difficulty is to claim that virtue is a threshold concept, that context sets a threshold for what is (...)
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  13. Stoic Virtue: A Contemporary Interpretation.Wes Siscoe - forthcoming - Philosophers' Imprint.
    The Stoic understanding of virtue is often taken to be a non-starter. Many of the Stoic claims about virtue – that a virtue requires moral perfection and that all who are not fully virtuous are vicious – are thought to be completely out of step with our commonsense notion of virtue, making the Stoic account more of an historical oddity than a seriously defended view. Despite many voices to the contrary, I will argue that there is a way of making (...)
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  14. Relaxing About Moral Truths.Christine Tiefensee - 2019 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6 (31):869-890.
    As with all other moral realists, so-called relaxed moral realists believe that there are moral truths. Unlike metaphysical moral realists, they do not take themselves to be defending a substantively metaphysical position when espousing this view, but to be putting forward a moral thesis from within moral discourse. In this paper, I employ minimalism about truth to examine whether or not there is a semantic analysis of the claim ‘There are moral truths’ which can support this moral interpretation of one (...)
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  15. "Ought" and Error.Christine Tiefensee - 2020 - Journal of Philosophy 117 (2):96-114.
    The moral error theory generally does not receive good press in metaethics. This paper adds to the bad news. In contrast to other critics, though, I do not attack error theorists’ characteristic thesis that no moral assertion is ever true. Instead, I develop a new counter-argument which questions error theorists’ ability to defend their claim that moral utterances are meaningful assertions. More precisely: Moral error theorists lack a convincing account of the meaning of deontic moral assertions, or so I will (...)
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  16. Resisting Relativistic Contextualism: On Finlay's Confusion of Tongues.Alex Worsnip - 2020 - Analysis 80 (1):122-131.
    Stephen Finlay’s book Confusion of Tongues is extraordinarily sophisticated, ambitious and thought-provoking. I highly commend it to those who haven’t read it yet. I will begin this commentary with a summary of which big-picture issues Finlay and I agree on and which we disagree on.
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  17. Частково фразеологізовані речення з відношеннями зумовленості.Mariya Lychuk - 2017 - Language: Classic – Modern – Postmodern 3:201-209.
    У статті досліджено частково фразеологізовані речення з семантикою зумовленості, описано засоби зв’язку між їхніми частинами. Схарактеризовано семантико-структурні різновиди двох підтипів частково фразеологізованих речень із відношеннями зумовленості. Простежено специфіку вираження дії в пре- і постпозитивних частинах цих речень, описано специфіку додаткової семантики, що нашаровується на основне значення.
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  18. Лінгвальне віддзеркалення оцінного ставлення до опонента в контексті перейменувальної кампанії.Olha Kyryliuk - 2017 - Language: Classic – Modern – Postmodern 3:29-35.
    У статті йдеться про особливості мовного віддзеркалення взаємного ставлення учасників дискусії в умовах обговорення суспільно-політичної ситуації. У ході аналізу окреслено основні психологічні прийоми маніпуляцій суспільною думкою за допомогою мовних одиниць. Встановлено екстра- та інтралінгвальні чинники, що впливають на вибір того чи того номінатива.
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  19. Non-Descriptive Relativism: Adding Options to the Expressivist Marketplace.Matthew Bedke - 2018 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 13:48-70.
    This chapter identifies a novel family of metaethical theories that are non-descriptive and that aim to explain the action-guiding qualities of normative thought and language. The general strategy is to consider different relations language might bear to a given content, where we locate descriptivity (or lack of it) in these relations, rather than locating it in a theory that begins with the expression of states of mind, or locating it in a special kind of content that is not way-things-might-be content. (...)
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  20. ‘Ought’-Contextualism Beyond the Parochial.Alex Worsnip - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (11):3099-3119.
    Despite increasing prominence, ‘ought’-contextualism is regarded with suspicion by most metaethicists. As I’ll argue, however, contextualism is a very weak claim, that every metaethicist can sign up to. The real controversy concerns how contextualism is developed. I then draw an oft-overlooked distinction between “parochial” contextualism—on which the contextually-relevant standards are those that the speaker, or others in her environment, subscribe to—and “aspirational” contextualism—on which the contextually-relevant standards are the objective standards for the relevant domain. However, I argue that neither view (...)
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  21. An Essentialist Theory of the Meaning of Slurs.Eleonore Neufeld - 2019 - Philosophers' Imprint 19.
    In this paper, I develop an essentialist model of the semantics of slurs. I defend the view that slurs are a species of kind terms: Slur concepts encode mini-theories which represent an essence-like element that is causally connected to a set of negatively-valenced stereotypical features of a social group. The truth-conditional contribution of slur nouns can then be captured by the following schema: For a given slur S of a social group G and a person P, S is true of (...)
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  22. Reply to Critics.Matti Eklund - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (5):535-561.
    Reply to Stephanie Leary’s, Kris McDaniel’s, Tristram McPherson’s and David Plunkett’s articles on Choosing Normative Concepts (OUP, 2017) in book symposium in Inquiry.
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  23. Thick Evaluation, by Simon Kirchin. [REVIEW]Brent G. Kyle - 2019 - Mind 128 (511):954-962.
    Thick Evaluation, by KirchinSimon. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. xi + 198.
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  24. Rationalist Metaphysics, Semantics and Metasemantics,.Mark van Roojen - 2018 - In Karen Jones & Francois Schroeter (eds.), The Many Moral Rationalisms. Oxford: Oxford Univerisity Press. pp. 167-186.
    Rationalism offers an account of moral properties as a subset of the properties which serve to rationalize right actions, and these properties are fit to be the referents of our moral terms. That fitness can be exploited in constructing an externalist theory of reference determination for these terms. The resulting externalist theory draws support from standard responses to Moral Twin-Earth scenarios. The relevance of these responses to moral semantics has recently beenvigorously challenged by Dowell and by Schroeter and Schroeter. The (...)
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  25. Are Moral Judgements Semantically Uniform? A Wittgensteinian Approach to the Cognitivism - Non-Cognitivism Debate.Benjamin De Mesel - 2019 - In Benjamin De Mesel & Oskari Kuusela (eds.), Ethics in the Wake of Wittgenstein. New York: Routledge. pp. 126-148.
    Cognitivists and non-cognitivists in contemporary meta-ethics tend to assume that moral judgments are semantically uniform. That is, they share the assumption that either all moral judgments express beliefs, or they all express non-beliefs. But what if some moral judgments express beliefs and others do not? Then moral judgments are not semantically uniform and the question “Cognitivist or non-cognitivist?” poses a false dilemma. I will question the assumption that moral judgments are semantically uniform. First, I will explain what I mean by (...)
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  26. Inferential Expressivism and the Negation Problem.Luca Incurvati & Julian J. Schlöder - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 16.
    We develop a novel solution to the negation version of the Frege-Geach problem by taking up recent insights from the bilateral programme in logic. Bilateralists derive the meaning of negation from a primitive *B-type* inconsistency involving the attitudes of assent and dissent. Some may demand an explanation of this inconsistency in simpler terms, but we argue that bilateralism’s assumptions are no less explanatory than those of *A-type* semantics that only require a single primitive attitude, but must stipulate inconsistency elsewhere. Based (...)
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  27. Moral Vagueness as Semantic Vagueness.Rohan Sud - 2019 - Ethics 129 (4):684-705.
    Does moral vagueness require ontic vagueness? A central challenge for nonontic treatments of moral vagueness arises from the referential stability of moral terms across small changes in how they are applied: if moral vagueness is not ontic vagueness, it’s hard to explain this referential stability. Pointing to this challenge, Miriam Schoenfield has argued that moral vagueness is ontic vagueness, at least for a moral realist. I disagree. I argue that a moral realist can use a conceptual role semantics for moral (...)
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  28. "Moral Skepticism: New Essays" Ed. Diego E. Machuca (Routledge 2018). [REVIEW]Neil Sinclair - 2019 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 9 (2):1-7.
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