Transforming expressivism

Noûs 33 (4):558-572 (1999)
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In chapter five of Wise Choices, Apt Feelings Allan Gibbard develops what he calls a ‘normative logic’ intended to solve some problems that face an expressivist theory of norms like his. The first is “the problem of embedding: The analysis applies to simple contexts, in which it is simply asserted or denied that such-and-such is rational. It says nothing about more complex normative assertions.”1 That is the problem with which I will be concerned. Though he doesn’t list it as one of the problems to be solved, Gibbard’s devices also explain what it means to say that a certain normative argument is ‘valid’, that one normative statement follows from some others. Both of these questions arise because of the ways we ordinarily think and speak, ways which on a simplistic version of expressivism appear not to make any sense. An expressivist committed to making sense of the way we ordinarily think and speak in normative language owes some account of embeddings and of logic. Gibbard’s device seems to me the clearest and most systematic of any expressivist attempt to meet these challenges.



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James Dreier
Brown University

Citations of this work

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