How Expressivists Can and Should Solve Their Problem with Negation

Noûs 42 (4):573-599 (2008)
Abstract
Expressivists have a problem with negation. The problem is that they have not, to date, been able to explain why ‘murdering is wrong’ and ‘murdering is not wrong’ are inconsistent sentences. In this paper, I explain the nature of the problem, and why the best efforts of Gibbard, Dreier, and Horgan and Timmons don’t solve it. Then I show how to diagnose where the problem comes from, and consequently how it is possible for expressivists to solve it. Expressivists should accept this solution, I argue, because it is demonstrably the only way of avoiding the problem, and because it generalizes. Once we see how to solve the negation problem, I show, it becomes easy to state a constructive, compositional expressivist semantics for a purely normative language with the expressive power of propositional logic, in which we can for the first time give explanatory, formally adequate expressivist accounts of logical inconsistency, logical entailment, and logical validity. As a corollary, I give what I take to be the first real expressivist explanation of why Geach’s original moral modus ponens argument is genuinely logically valid. This proves that the problem with expressivism cannot be that it can’t account for the logical properties of complex normative sentences. But it does not show that the same solution can work for a language with both normative and descriptive predicates, let alone that expressivists are able to deal with more complex linguistic constructions like tense, modals, or even quantifiers. In the final section, I show what kind of constraints the solution offered here would place expressivists under, in answering these further questions
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DOI 10.1111/j.1468-0068.2008.00693.x
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References found in this work BETA
Thinking How to Live.Allan Gibbard - 2003 - Harvard University Press.
Essays in Quasi-Realism.Simon Blackburn - 1993 - Oxford University Press.
Change in View.Gilbert Harman - 1986 - MIT Press.

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Citations of this work BETA
The Problem with the Frege–Geach Problem.Nate Charlow - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (3):635-665.
Intuitions Are Inclinations to Believe.Joshua Earlenbaugh & Bernard Molyneux - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 145 (1):89 - 109.
How to Be an Ethical Expressivist.Alex Silk - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (1):47-81.
What is the Frege-Geach Problem?Mark Schroeder - 2008 - Philosophy Compass 3 (4):703-720.
Zarathustra’s Metaethics.Neil Sinhababu - 2015 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45 (3):278-299.

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