Talking about taste: Disagreement, implicit arguments, and relative truth

Linguistics and Philosophy 30 (6):691-706 (2007)
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Abstract

In this paper, I take issue with an idea that has emerged from recent relativist proposals, and, in particular, from Lasersohn, according to which the correct semantics for taste predicates must use contents that are functions of a judge parameter rather than implicit arguments lexically associated with such predicates. I argue that the relativist account and the contextualist implicit argument-account are, from the viewpoint of semantics, not much more than notational variants of one another. In other words, given any sentence containing a taste predicate, and given any assignment of values to the relevant parameters, the two accounts predict the same truth value and are, in that sense, equivalent. I also look at possible reasons for preferring one account over the other. The phenomenon of "faultless disagreement" is often believed to be one such reason. I argue, against Kölbel and Lasersohn, that disagreement is never faultless: either the two parties genuinely disagree, hence if the one is right then the other is wrong, or the two parties are both right, but their apparent disagreement boils down to a misunderstanding. What is more, even if there were faultless disagreement, I argue that relativism would fail to account for it. The upshot of my paper, then, is to show that there is not much disagreement between a contextualist account that models the judge parameter as an implicit argument to the taste predicate, and a relativist account that models it as a parameter of the circumstances of evaluation. The choice between the two accounts, at least when talking about taste, is thus, to a large extent, a matter of taste.

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Isidora Stojanovic
Institut Jean Nicod

Citations of this work

Aesthetic Adjectives.Louise McNally & Isidora Stojanovic - 2014 - In James Young (ed.), The Semantics of Aesthetic Judgment. Oxford University Press.
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The Semantic Significance of Faultless Disagreement.Michele Palmira - 2014 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (3):349-371.

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References found in this work

Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
Reference and definite descriptions.Keith S. Donnellan - 1966 - Philosophical Review 75 (3):281-304.
Index, context, and content.David K. Lewis - 1980 - In Stig Kanger & Sven Öhman (eds.), Philosophy and Grammar. Reidel. pp. 79-100.
Truth Without Objectivity.Max Kölbel - 2002 - London and New York: Routledge.

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