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Expressivism, Inferentialism, and the Theory of Meaning

In Michael Brady (ed.), New Waves in Metaethics. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan (2011)

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  1. Normative disagreement: a functional account for inferentialists.Sebastian Köhler - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (2):617-637.
    There was a time when meta-ethical expressivism seemed to be the only game in town for meta-ethical non-representationalists. In recent years, though, meta-ethical inferentialism has emerged as a promising non-representationalist alternative. So far, however, inferentialists lack something that would really allow them to draw level with expressivists. This is an explanation for the distinctive difference between normative and descriptive vocabulary when it comes to disagreement—something expressivists can explain in terms of the difference between representational and desire-like states and which constitutes (...)
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  • Inferentialist Truth Pluralism.Herman Veluwenkamp - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (1):107-121.
    Metasemantic inferentialismhas gained popularity in the last few decades. Traditionally, inferentialism is combined with a deflationary attitude towards semantic terms such as truth and reference, i.e., many inferentialists hold that when we use these semantic terms we do not purport to refer to substantive properties. This combination makes inferentialism attractive for philosophers who see themselves as antirealists. Although the attractions of combining inferentialism and deflationism are easy to see, deflationism is also a controversial position. For one, deflationists maintain that truth (...)
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  • Moral inferentialism and the Frege-Geach problem.Mark Douglas Warren - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (11):2859-2885.
    Despite its many advantages as a metaethical theory, moral expressivism faces difficulties as a semantic theory of the meaning of moral claims, an issue underscored by the notorious Frege-Geach problem. I consider a distinct metaethical view, inferentialism, which like expressivism rejects a representational account of meaning, but unlike expressivism explains meaning in terms of inferential role instead of expressive function. Drawing on Michael Williams’ recent work on inferential theories of meaning, I argue that an appropriate understanding of the pragmatic role (...)
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  • Building bridges with words: an inferential account of ethical univocity.Mark Douglas Warren - 2018 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 48 (3-4):468-488.
    Explaining genuine moral disagreement is a challenge for metaethical theories. For expressivists, this challenge comes from the plausibility of agents making seemingly univocal claims while expressing incongruent conative attitudes. I argue that metaethical inferentialism – a deflationary cousin to expressivism, which locates meaning in the inferential import of our moral assertions rather than the attitudes they express – offers a unique solution to this problem. Because inferentialism doesn’t locate the source of moral disagreements in a clash between attitudes, but instead (...)
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  • Saving which differences? Creeping minimalism and disagreement.Christine Tiefensee - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (7):1905-1921.
    Much thought has been devoted to how metaethical disagreement between moral realism and expressivism can be saved once minimalism starts creeping. Very little thought has been given to how creeping minimalism affects error-theories’ disagreement with their metaethical competitors. The reason for this omission, I suspect, is found in the belief that whilst locating distinctive moral realist and expressivist positions within a minimalist landscape poses a severe challenge, no such difficulties are encountered when differentiating error-theories from moral realism and expressivism. In (...)
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  • Inferentialist metaethics, bifurcations and ontological commitment.Christine Tiefensee - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (9):2437-2459.
    According to recent suggestions within the global pragmatism discussion, metaethical debate must be fundamentally re-framed. Instead of carving out metaethical differences in representational terms, it has been argued that metaethics should be given an inferentialist footing. In this paper, I put inferentialist metaethics to the test by subjecting it to the following two criteria for success: Inferentialist metaethicists must be able to save the metaethical differences between moral realism and expressivism, and do so in a way that employs understandings of (...)
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  • Can the Embedding Problem Be Generalized?Caj Strandberg - 2015 - Acta Analytica 30 (1):1-15.
    One of the most discussed challenges to metaethical expressivism is the embedding problem. It is widely presumed that the reason why expressivism faces this difficulty is that it claims that moral sentences express non-cognitive states, or attitudes, which constitute their meaning. In this paper, it is argued that the reason why the embedding problem constitutes a challenge to expressivism is another than what it usually is thought to be. Further, when we have seen the real reason why expressivism is vulnerable (...)
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  • What is Global Expressivism?Matthew Simpson - 2020 - Philosophical Quarterly 70 (278):140-161.
    Global expressivism is the radical view that we should never think of any of our language and thought as representing the world. While interesting, global expressivism has not yet been clearly formulated, and its defenders often use unexplained terms of art to characterise their view. I fix this problem by carefully and clearly exploring the different ways in which we can interpret globalism. I reject almost all of them either because they are implausible or because they are bad interpretations of (...)
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  • Solving the problem of creeping minimalism.Matthew Simpson - 2018 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 48 (3-4):510-531.
    In this paper I discuss the so-called problem of creeping minimalism, the problem of distinguishing metaethical expressivism from its rivals once expressivists start accepting minimalist theories about truth, representation, belief, and similar concepts. I argue that Dreier’s ‘explanation’ explanation is almost correct, but by critically examining it we not only get a better solution, but also draw out some interesting results about expressivism and non-representationalist theories of meaning more generally.
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  • Relativism and the expressivist bifurcation.Javier González de Prado Salas - 2018 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 48 (3-4):357-378.
    Traditional expressivists want to preserve a contrast between the representational use of declarative sentences in descriptive domains and the non-representational use of declarative sentences in other areas of discourse. However, expressivists have good reasons to endorse minimalism about representational notions, and minimalism seems to threaten the existence of such a bifurcation. Thus, there are pressures for expressivists to become global anti-representationalists. In this paper I discuss how to reconstruct in non-representationalist terms the sort of bifurcation traditional expressivists were after. My (...)
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  • Quasirealism as semantic dispensability.Derek Baker - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (7):2313-2333.
    I argue that standard explanationist solutions to the problem of creeping minimalism are largely on the right track, but they fail to correctly specify the kind of explanation that is relevant to distinguishing realism from quasirealism. Quasirealism should not be distinguished from realism in terms of the explanations it gives of why a normative judgment—a normative sentence or attitude—has the semantic content that it has. Rather, it should be distinguished in terms of the explanations it offers of what the semantic (...)
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  • Neo-Kantian constructivism and metaethics.Kirk Surgener - 2012 - Dissertation, University of Birmingham
    Christine Korsgaard has attempted to defend a distinct approach to metaethics – Neo-Kantian Constructivism. Not only does she present a positive case for her own view, she also attacks existing metaethical positions and even the disctinctions that metaethics has traditionally relied on. This thesis is a sustained examination of this position. I consider whether Korsgaard can legitimately claim to be offering a metaethical position at all, providing her with some defence against the scepticism of some metaethicists. I also examine her (...)
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  • Inference and action: relating beliefs to the world.Javier Gonzalez De Prado Salas - unknown
    The goal of this dissertation is to offer a practice-based account of intentionality. My aim is to examine what sort of practices agents have to engage in so as to count as talking and thinking about the way the world is – that is, what sort of practices count as representational. Representational practices answer to the way the world is: what is correct within such practices depends on the way things are, rather than on the attitudes of agents. An account (...)
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  • Inferentialism without Normativity.Krzysztof Poslajko & Pawel Grabarczyk - 2018 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 25 (2):174-195.
    In this paper we argue that inferentialist approach to meaning does not, by itself, show that meaning is normative in a prescriptive sense, and that the constitutive rules argument is especially troubling for this position. To show that, we present the proto-inferentialist theory developed by Ajdukiewicz and claim that despite the differences between his theory and contemporary inferentialism rules of language in both theories function more like classificatory devices than prescriptions. Inferentialists can respond by claiming that in their theory meaning (...)
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