Possessing moral concepts

Philosophia 37 (3):535-556 (2009)
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Moral discourse allows for speakers to disagree in many ways: about right and wrong acts, about moral theory, about the rational and conative significance of moral failings. Yet speakers’ eccentricities do not prevent them from engaging in moral conversation or from having (genuine, not equivocal) moral disagreement. Thus differences between speakers are compatible with possession of moral concepts. This paper examines various kinds of moral disagreements and argues that they provide evidence against conceptual-role and informational atomist approaches to understanding our moral concepts. Conceptual role approaches fail because they cannot account for shared concepts among speakers with different commitments to the practical and conative ramifications of moral judgments. Informational atomist views fail because speakers need not be locked on to the same moral properties to share moral concepts.



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David Merli
Franklin and Marshall College

Citations of this work

Conceptual Role Semantics and the Reference of Moral Concepts.Neil Sinclair - 2018 - European Journal of Philosophy 26 (1):95-121.
Alternative normative concepts.Matti Eklund - 2012 - Analytic Philosophy 53 (2):139-157.
Non-Naturalism and Reference.Jussi Suikkanen - 2017 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 11 (2):1-24.
Constructivism in Ethics.Carla Bagnoli (ed.) - 2013 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Normative Naturalism on Its Own Terms.Pekka Väyrynen - 2021 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 28 (3):505-530.

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