Moral Disagreement and Moral Semantics

Noûs:109-143 (2016)
Authors
Joshua Knobe
Yale University
Justin Khoo
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abstract
When speakers utter conflicting moral sentences, it seems clear that they disagree. It has often been suggested that the fact that the speakers disagree gives us evidence for a claim about the semantics of the sentences they are uttering. Specifically, it has been suggested that the existence of the disagreement gives us reason to infer that there must be an incompatibility between the contents of these sentences. This inference then plays a key role in a now-standard argument against certain theories in moral semantics. In this paper, we introduce new evidence that bears on this debate. We show that there are moral conflict cases in which people are inclined to say both that the two speakers disagree and that it is not the case at least one of them must be saying something incorrect. We then explore how we might understand such disagreements. As a proof of concept, we sketch an account of the concept of disagreement and an independently motivated theory of moral semantics which, together, explain the possibility of such cases.
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Reprint years 2016, 2018
DOI 10.1111/nous.12151
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References found in this work BETA

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Citations of this work BETA

Quasi Indexicals.Justin Khoo - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
Subjective Disagreement.Beddor Bob - forthcoming - Noûs.
Essentially Practical Questions.Brendan Balcerak Jackson - 2019 - Analytic Philosophy 60 (1):1-26.

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