Expressivism and Cognitive Propositions

James L. D. Brown
University of Edinburgh
Expressivists about normative thought and discourse traditionally deny that there are nondeflationary normative propositions. However, it has recently been suggested that expressivists might avoid a number of problems by providing a theory of normative propositions compatible with expressivism. This paper explores the prospects for developing an expressivist theory of propositions within the framework of cognitive act theories of propositions. First, I argue that the only extant expressivist theory of cognitive propositions—Michael Ridge's ‘ecumenical expressivist’ theory—fails to explain identity conditions for normative propositions. Second, I argue that this failure motivates a general constraint—the ‘unity requirement’—that any expressivist theory of propositions must provide a unified nonrepresentational explanation of that in virtue of which propositional attitudes have the content that they have. Third, I argue that conceptual role accounts of content provide a promising framework in which to develop an expressivist theory of cognitive propositions.
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DOI 10.1017/apa.2019.20
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