Expressivism, Representation, and the Nature of Conceptual Analysis

Philosophical Studies 156 (1):15-31 (2011)
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Philosophers often hold that the aim of conceptual analysis is to discover the representational content of a given concept such as freewill, belief, or law. In From Metaphysics to Ethics and other recent work, Frank Jackson has developed a theory of conceptual analysis that is one of the most advanced systematizations of this widespread idea. I argue that this influential way of characterizing conceptual analysis is too narrow. I argue that it is possible that an expressivist account could turn out to be correct as a genuine conceptual analysis of a genuine concept. I claim that since an expressivist analysis does not aim to discover the representational content of a given concept—and, indeed, might itself be based on the idea that the concept in question is not even representational in nature—the possibility of expressivist conceptual analysis shows that Jackson’s theory of conceptual analysis is incomplete as it currently stands. I conclude that Jackson needs to either shift his basic understanding of the nature of conceptual analysis or commit to a particular normative reinterpretation of his project.



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David Plunkett
Dartmouth College

References found in this work

Thinking How to Live.Allan Gibbard - 2003 - Harvard University Press.
Moral Thinking: Its Levels, Method, and Point.R. M. Hare (ed.) - 1981 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Essays in Quasi-Realism.Simon Blackburn - 1993 - Oxford University Press.

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