Expressivism, Attitudinal Complexity and Two Senses of Disagreement in Attitude

Erkenntnis 81 (4):775-794 (2016)


It has recently become popular to apply expressivism outside the moral domain, e.g., to truth and epistemic justification. This paper examines the prospects of generalizing expressivism to taste. This application has much initial plausibility. Many of the standard arguments used in favor of moral expressivism seem to apply to taste. For example, it seems conceivable that you and I disagree about whether chocolate is delicious although we don’t disagree about the facts, which suggests that taste judgments are noncognitive attitudes rather than beliefs. However, there is also a striking difference between moral disagreements and disagreements about taste. Faced with a moral disagreement, we intuit that either party is at fault. Disagreements about taste, by contrast, are occurrences where neither party intuitively is at fault. This leads to a dilemma. On the one hand, if a disagreement in attitude is not intuited as faultless, then it seems implausible if applied to taste. If, on the other hand, a disagreement in attitude is a disagreement that we intuit as faultless, then it seems implausible if applied to the moral domain. The aim of this paper is to examine how an expressivist can avoid this dilemma.

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John Eriksson
University of Gothenburg

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