Michael A. Smith

Abstract

Back in the bad old days, it was easy enough to spot non-cognitivists. They pressed radical doctrines with considerable bravado. Intoxicated by the apparent implications of logical positivism, early noncognitivsts would say things like, "in saying that a certain type of action is right or wrong, I am not making any factual statement..." (Ayer 1936: 107) Like most rebellious youths, non-cognitivism eventually grew up. Later non-cognitivists developed the position into a more subtle doctrine, no longer committed to the revisionary doctrines associated with its forefathers. For example, Simon Blackburn has undertaken the "quasi-realist" project of showing how a non-cognitivist can "earn" the right to the seemingly realist discourse on a less metaphysically controversial and semantically implausible basis by giving a non-cognitivist analysis of realist-sounding semantics and pragmatics (Blackburn 1993).

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Michael Ridge
University of Edinburgh

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