Philosophers' Imprint 13:1-20 (2013)

Authors
Brent G. Kyle
United States Air Force Academy
Abstract
Ethicists are typically willing to grant that thick terms (e.g. ‘courageous’ and ‘murder’) are somehow associated with evaluations. But they tend to disagree about what exactly this relationship is. Does a thick term’s evaluation come by way of its semantic content? Or is the evaluation pragmatically associated with the thick term (e.g. via conversational implicature)? In this paper, I argue that thick terms are semantically associated with evaluations. In particular, I argue that many thick concepts (if not all) conceptually entail evaluative contents. The Semantic View has a number of outspoken critics, but I shall limit discussion to the most recent--Pekka Väyrynen--who believes that objectionable thick concepts present a problem for the Semantic View. After advancing my positive argument in favor of the Semantic View (section II), I argue that Väyrynen’s attack is unsuccessful (section III). One reason ethicists cite for not focusing on thick concepts is that such concepts are supposedly not semantically evaluative whereas traditional thin concepts (e.g. good and wrong) are. But if my view is correct, then this reason must be rejected.
Keywords thick concepts  thick terms  semantic  pragmatic  objectionable thick concepts  multivalence  good in a way  bad in a way  evaluative content  evaluation
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Citations of this work BETA

Thick Ethical Concepts.Pekka Väyrynen - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Thick Concepts.Brent G. Kyle - 2016 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Courage, Cowardice, and Maher’s Misstep.Brent G. Kyle - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (4):565-587.

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