Canadian Journal of Philosophy 33 (4):563-574 (2003)

Authors
Michael Ridge
University of Edinburgh
Abstract
Meta-ethical non-cognitivism makes two claims—a negative one and a positive one. The negative claim is that moral utterances do not express beliefs which provide the truth-conditions for those utterances. The positive claim is that the primary function of such utterances is to express certain of the speaker’s desire-like states of mind. Non-cognitivism is officially a theory about the meanings of moral words, but non-cognitivists also maintain that moral states of mind are themselves at least partially constituted by desire-like states to which moral utterances give voice. Non-cognitivists need a plausible account of what distinguishes whims, addictions and cravings from genuinely moral judgments. For while non-cognitivists maintain that in a suitably broad sense moral judgments just are constituted by desire-like states they also insist that not any old desire constitutes a genuinely moral judgment. Since the challenge is to demarcate what is distinctive about moral attitudes we might usefully call this the demarcation challenge. One common strategy for meeting the demarcation challenge is to focus on desires directed at getting others to share one’s own desires and emotions. This strategy has some of its earliest roots in Charles Stevenson’s pioneering work. Stevenson argued that there is a ‘do so as well!’ aspect to moral discourse. On Stevenson’s account, in saying something is morally good a speaker not only expresses her own attitude of approval of the object of evaluation but also urges her interlocutors to share that attitude, thereby expressing a desire that they ‘do so as well.’ More recently, in Ruling Passions, Simon Blackburn emphasizes the importance of what he refers to as a ‘staircase of practical and emotional ascent’
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0045-5091
DOI cjphil200333417
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References found in this work BETA

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Recent Work in Expressivism.Neil Sinclair - 2009 - Analysis 69 (1):136-147.

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