Inferential Expressivism and the Negation Problem

Oxford Studies in Metaethics 16 (forthcoming)

Abstract

We develop a novel solution to the negation version of the Frege-Geach problem by taking up recent insights from the bilateral programme in logic. Bilateralists derive the meaning of negation from a primitive *B-type* inconsistency involving the attitudes of assent and dissent. Some may demand an explanation of this inconsistency in simpler terms, but we argue that bilateralism’s assumptions are no less explanatory than those of *A-type* semantics that only require a single primitive attitude, but must stipulate inconsistency elsewhere. Based on these insights, we develop a version of B-type expressivism called *inferential expressivism*. This is a novel semantic framework that characterises meanings by inferential roles that define which *attitudes* one can *infer* from the use of terms. We apply this framework to normative vocabulary, thereby solving the Frege-Geach problem generally and comprehensively. Our account moreover includes a semantics for epistemic modals, thereby also explaining normative terms under epistemic modals.

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References found in this work

Language, Truth and Logic.Alfred Jules Ayer - 1936 - London: V. Gollancz.
The Logical Basis of Metaphysics.Michael Dummett - 1991 - Harvard University Press.
The Language of Morals.Richard Mervyn Hare - 1952 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Impassioned Belief.Michael Ridge - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
Natural Deduction: A Proof-Theoretical Study.Dag Prawitz - 1965 - Stockholm, Sweden: Dover Publications.

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