Mind 123 (489):1-38 (2014)

Gunnar Björnsson
Stockholm University
Moral non-cognitivists hope to explain the nature of moral agreement and disagreement as agreement and disagreement in non-cognitive attitudes. In doing so, they take on the task of identifying the relevant attitudes, distinguishing the non-cognitive attitudes corresponding to judgements of moral wrongness, for example, from attitudes involved in aesthetic disapproval or the sports fan’s disapproval of her team’s performance. We begin this paper by showing that there is a simple recipe for generating apparent counterexamples to any informative specification of the moral attitudes. This may appear to be a lethal objection to non-cognitivism, but a similar recipe challenges attempts by non-cognitivism’s competitors to specify the conditions underwriting the contrast between genuine and merely apparent moral disagreement. Because of its generality, this specification problem requires a systematic response, which, we argue, is most easily available for the non-cognitivist. Building on premisses congenial to the non-cognitivist tradition, we make the following claims: (1) In paradigmatic cases, wrongness-judgements constitute a certain complex but functionally unified state, and paradigmatic wrongness-judgements form a functional kind, preserved by homeostatic mechanisms. (2) Because of the practical function of such judgements, we should expect judges’ intuitive understanding of agreement and disagreement to be accommodating, treating states departing from the paradigm in various ways as wrongness-judgements. (3) This explains the intuitive judgements required by the counterexample-generating recipe, and more generally why various kinds of amoralists are seen as making genuine wrongness-judgements
Keywords non-cognitivism  disagreement  moral attitude problem  amoralists  twin earth  Simon Blackburn
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/mind/fzu031
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Intention.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1957 - Harvard University Press.
Animal Liberation.Peter Singer (ed.) - 1977 - Avon Books.

View all 85 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Corporate Crocodile Tears? On the Reactive Attitudes of Corporate Agents.Gunnar Björnsson & Kendy Hess - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (2):273–298.
A Solution to the Many Attitudes Problem.Bob Beddor - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (9):2789-2813.
Reasons, Inescapability and Persuasion.Neil Sinclair - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2823-2844.
Psychopathy and Internalism.Victor Kumar - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (3):318-345.

View all 20 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

An Alternative to Relativism.John K. Davis - 2010 - Philosophical Topics 38 (2):17-37.
Expressivism and Irrationality.Mark van Roojen - 1996 - Philosophical Review 105 (3):311-335.
Warring Tautologies: Moral Dissent From a Cognitivist Perspective.Matthias Kiesselbach - 2009 - [email protected] - An International Journal for Moral Philosophy 8 (1):125-145.
Evaluation, Uncertainty and Motivation.Michael Smith - 2002 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 5 (3):305-320.
Moral Cognitivism.Hallvard Lillehammer - 2002 - Philosophical Papers 31 (1):1-25.
The Moral Evil Demons.Ralph Wedgwood - 2010 - In Richard Feldman & Ted A. Warfield (eds.), Disagreement. Oxford University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
1,083 ( #5,418 of 2,498,775 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
75 ( #10,196 of 2,498,775 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes