A Speaker-Meaning Theory of Moral Responsibility

The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 26:53-59 (1998)
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Abstract

In this paper I attempt to give an account of the moral criticizability of motive by appeal to some insights in semantic theory. I maintain that the actions for which we hold persons responsible cannot strictly be understood as expressive of semantic meaning. However, I argue that morally responsible actions can be understood on analogy with a basic Gricean distinction between speaker's and sentence meaning. The analogy suggests that morally responsible actions require a competent moral agent to operate from within the confines of an interpretive moral framework of action assessment, a framework analogous to the framework required for sentence meaning.

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