Does non-cognitivism rest on a mistake?

Utilitas 19 (2):184-200 (2007)
Abstract
Philippa Foot has recently argued that non-cognitivism rests on a mistake. According to Foot, non-cognitivism cannot properly account for the role of reasons in moral thinking. Furthermore, Foot argues that moral judgements share a conceptual structure with the kind of evaluations that we make about plants and animals, which cannot be couched in non-cognitivist terms. In this article I argue that, in the form of expressivism, non-cognitivism is capable of accommodating most of what Foot says about reasons and morality. I then argue that the kind of evaluative judgements Foot suggests that we make about plants and animals, does not constitute a plausible alternative to an expressivist understanding of moral judgements. Finally I consider an account similar to Foot's, defended by Rosalind Hursthouse, which, I argue, suffers from an inconsistency, the avoidance of which leaves Hursthouse with a view that is either compatible with expressivism or shares the same problems as Foot's.
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DOI 10.1017/S0953820807002464
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